Chaos reigns over the mandatory introduction of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in private rented homes.
The requirement was for alarms to be installed in almost all rental properties by the end of this month.
However, with just three weeks to go, the draft Regulations have still not been approved by Parliament, and yesterday the House of Lords threw them out and demanded it should debate them.
Peers said that the Government has not done enough to inform landlords and agents of the requirement, and that the legislation is poorly worded.
It is, however, still possible that the legislation could kick in on October 1.
Only days ago, the Government hurried out a guide to the requirement – knowing that it had not got through Parliament.
As things stand, the new rules require at least one smoke alarm on every floor.
According to the draft Regulations, there is to be no grace period and landlords found to be in breach could be fined up to £5,000.
It is now not clear if the requirement will go live on October 1, and if so whether landlords and their agents will be given more than a few days’ notice in which to comply. It is not even known whether the Regulations could be changed.
The British Property Federation yesterday hit out at the “Government’s disorganisation and lack of clarity”.
It also criticised the fact that there had been no consultation.
As things stand under the draft Regulations, the requirements are for a working smoke alarm to be fitted on each floor. A carbon monoxide alarm must be fitted in any room where solid fuel is used.
The requirements cover properties with both existing and new tenancies.
Landlords, or their agents, will be responsible for ensuring that the alarms work at the start of the tenancy. Tenants then become responsible for looking after them.
Exemptions include HMOs – but only because they have their own regulations on alarms – and properties owned by social landlords.
Enforcement will be by the local authorities, which will be able to require landlords to fit alarms within 28 days.
The Government’s short guide, albeit flagging up that the Regulations have yet to be passed, is here
And lawyer Tessa Shepperson has done a helpful blog but it should be borne in mind that this was written before the Lords refused to rubber-stamp the draft Regulations.