It’s rare that there’s a clear and simple remedy for the problems we deal with on the front line at Shelter so when we find one we grasp it with both hands. Take carbon monoxide and smoke alarms -it’s a no brainer that they should be installed in every home. We see people being made sick, hospitalised or even dying as a result of monoxide poisoning, especially private renters. According to the Gas Safety Trust, renters are at least four times more at risk than those living in other tenures. Only half of renters report having a working smoke alarm fitted. The time to sort this out is long overdue.
That’s why we’re delighted that the government has announced that they will make it compulsory for private sector landlords to install carbon monoxide alarms and smoke alarms in rental properties, with funding for fire authorities to hand out alarms to people. Shelter and British Gas have been jointly calling for action on this issue including in Safe and Decent Homes, our flagship report on conditions in the private rented sector.
A couple of notes of caution. I do wonder if it would be more straightforward all round to introduce a blanket requirement rather than limiting the requirement for carbon monoxide alarms to ‘high risk rooms’. And as with any new regulation it’s only meaningful if it’s enforceable. But with an end to revenge evictions in sight, it should soon get easier for tenants to speak up and get landlords to fix faulty boilers and other dangerous glitches before it’s too late.