British landlords left fuming over new smoke alarms laws



LANDLORDS in the UK have criticised what they claim are unnecessary delays in the introduction of legislation which will make it compulsory to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in private rented homes.

Draft regulations were published earlier in the year to require private sector landlords to install at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their rental property from 01 October 2015, providing local authorities with the power to fine landlords who fail to comply £5,000.

However, the UK’s upper house of parliament, the House of Lords, has rejected the draft legislation at is final stage on the basis that the proposed introduction is less than three weeks away, that the government has not done enough to inform landlords of the changes, and that the legislation is poorly worded.

The British Property Federation (BPF), which represents residential landlords and has supported the draft legislation, has warned that by the time the legislation is approved, landlords will be left with mere days to comply with the legislation, risking the £5,000 fine.

According to Propertywire, BPF has issued further concerns that information about the impending change in legislation has been poorly disseminated, and that many landlords may even be unaware of the changes and the potential fines.

“We have been fully supportive of the campaign to make smoke alarms compulsory in private rented properties, and are therefore extremely disappointed to see this unnecessary delay in proceedings,’ said Ian Fletcher, director of policy (real estate) at the BPF.

“‘The original timeframe for the legislation was tight, but allowing time for a further debate in the Lords is going to make this even worse. Coupled with the fact that there has been no publicity on the changes, we are worried that many landlords are going to be caught out by the fine as a result of government’s disorganisation and lack of clarity,” he explained.

“It is particularly frustrating that one of the reasons that this revocation has happened is because the introduction is worded poorly, as there has been no consultation on this,’”he added.

Richard Lambert, chief executive officer of the National Landlords Association (NLA), described the situation as ‘farcical’. ‘These regulations are poorly worded, badly timed and being tabled with just days to spare before they are due to come into force on 01 October,’ he said.

“As we understand it, there will be no guidance from the Government explaining how to comply before then. How can a landlord about to let a property on a tenancy from the start of October be expected to comply with these new requirements if they’ve not been told what they are and what is expected,’”he pointed out.

“Given that there is no Government budget for marketing these new laws, and so it is relying on industry organisations and professional advisers as the main route to compliance, it’s shoddy, to say the least,” he added.

Meanwhile, Saga, a services and advice provider for people aged over 50, has hit out at remarks attributed the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s financial watchdog, that retired people should not continue living in properties that are too big for them.

Lynda Blackwell, head of mortgages at the FCA, is reported to have told Ministers that they need to address the situation in the UK where retired people continue living in the family home once their children have left.

She explained that the current housing shortage could be addressed by these so called ‘last time buyer’ moving to smaller properties to free up homes for people lower down the housing ladder.

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