Landlords urged to act over safety laws

New  regulations which will help keep private renting tenants in Merseyside safer – and aiming to save dozens of lives a year – have been approved by Parliament.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service is urging landlords in Merseyside to act now to ensure they are ready for the new safety laws.

The new legislation means it will be compulsory for private landlords to fit smoke alarms on every floor of the property as well as carbon monoxide alarms in properties which burn solid fuels. Landlords must check the alarms are working at the start of every new tenancy with potential penalties of up to £5,000 if they don’t comply.

The regulations will come into force on October 1.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the Silent Killer. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it and it can kill quickly with no warning.

To help landlords gear up for the new regulations, the Government has provided Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service with a limited number of free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to give out to relevant landlords.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan, from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, said: “With Parliament approving this law then now really is the time for landlords in Merseyside to act to make sure they are ready for October 1.

“We would urge those landlords, who need to take action to comply with the new regulations, to take advantage of the free alarms we are able to provide. Landlords can register their interest for the stock of free alarms in Merseyside by contacting Fire Service Direct at Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service on 0800 731 5958 or by email at FireServiceDirect2@merseyfire.gov.uk .”

The Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) has been campaigning for over two years for the legislation to be introduced and presented key evidence and research into the Government’s national review of the issue.

In March 2014, people were urged by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MF&RS) to back calls for a law change for the rented sector to help improve the number of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in properties in Merseyside. As part of this, messages were put on community fire station media walls, on the MF&RS website www.merseyfire.gov.uk and newspaper articles were published urging people to take part in, what at the time was, a consultation by Department for Communities and Local Government on the area.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Garrigan said: “Often those in private rented property are amongst the most vulnerable members of society; elderly residents, lone tenants, those with disability or who have difficulty with mobility or with dependency issues.

“A working smoke alarm is a vital piece of life-saving equipment and we regularly see the impact that correctly fitted alarms have when alerting people to a fire, giving them the vital seconds they need to escape.”

The Deputy Chief Fire Officer made the appeal to landlords during the Chief Fire Officers Association’s (CFOA) Home Fire Safety Week, which runs from September 28 to October 4.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service staff will be out in force during this week urging people to stay safe from fires in their homes.

This will include visits to homes where staff, firefighters and prevention staff will be carrying out Home Fire Safety Checks and offering fire safety advice. The fire prevention vehicle will also be out in the community throughout the week.

Fire Prevention staff in Liverpool will also be providing Home Safety presentations to housing association representatives.

During the week is UK Older Peoples Day, on October 1, when there will be a day of action targeting elderly people in the community. On that day, staff from different departments across the Service will volunteer to accompany prevention teams on visits to homes of older people and sheltered accommodation.

CFOA’s President Paul Hancock said: “This marks a change in improving the safety of some of our most vulnerable residents.

“We know most landlords will support this move and already operate safely, but for the irresponsible few the legislation will help to protect tenants.”  

Mark Cashin, Cheshire’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer and Chair of CFOA’s Home Safety Committee, said: “I am delighted that the Government recognised the strength of the case we put forward and the major improvements in public safety this simple step will bring about.”

Statistically, people are four times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there is no working smoke alarm and over the next 10 years it is estimated that the new laws will result in 231 fewer deaths and 5,860 less injuries.