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Stricter CO alarm laws backed as government review launches

A group of cross-party MPs and the Gas Safety Trust have called for new laws requiring any rented property with fuel burning appliances to fit CO detectors

The All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) has urged government to legislate for the mandatory fitting of CO alarms in all private rental properties using fuel-burning appliance such as boilers and water heaters.

report from the parliamentary group has argued that existing requirements should be extended beyond applying solely to wood stoves and other solid fuel burning appliances to bring laws in England in line with Scotland. This would require rented properties with boilers, water heaters or any other fuel burning appliance to be subject to the law.

The calls coincide with the launch of a government consultation intended to review the existing smoke and CO alarm legislation that was introduced in 2015.

APPCOG said that changing cost factors around fitting CO alarms would make tighter legislation much more viable for the private sector, as well as addressing wider concerns about building safety.

 “Technological developments in the design of alarms mean the financial cost of extending the regulations to apply wherever a fuel-burning appliance is installed is now significantly lower,” said the group’s findings.

APPCOG argued that despite government concerns over “increasing regulatory and cost burdens on businesses”, mandating CO alarm use only for solid fuel appliances had created confusion for landlords. The group argued that the proposed changes would therefore be broadly welcomed.

“There is firm agreement across the sector, including from landlords and the gas and solid fuel industries, that the regulations should be extended in this way,” said the report.  “This will help deliver the government’s commitments on protecting tenants, especially the most vulnerable households and those in fuel poverty. It will have a positive effect on the one in five families that live in private rented accommodation.”

 Government review

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announced this week that it was launching a consultation to consider the effectiveness of the existing CO alarm regulations. However, the department said this call for evidence was not an indication of an intention to change current law.

DCLG noted that the consultation would be taking place alongside the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety that had been announced following the Grenfell Tower fire in June.

 “This independent review led by Dame Judith Hackitt will submit an interim report before the end of 2017 and a final report in spring 2018. Any proposed changes to the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations would follow and be subject to the conclusions of the independent review,” the department stated. “The findings from this consultation will be used to inform, but will not presuppose, the Dame Judith Hackitt review.”

 The CO alarm consultation will be accepting evidence until January 9.

 Among the organisations expected to respond to the consultation is the Gas Safety Trust, which has welcomed recommendations in the APPCOG report to bring English laws on CO alarms in line with the rest of the UK.

 “This would make it clearer for landlords to know their obligations, and would make this type of tenure, which has been identified as at most risk safer,” said the trust in a statement.

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