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By D
28/01/2011

Fire, Fire!

A brief note to point out the Fire Safety (Protection of Tenants) Bill 2010-11, which is currently working through the House of Commons.

This is Private Members Bill which had its first reading on 30 June 2010 (we were a bit slow picking it up, sorry) and is due a second reading on 1 April 2011. This bill will require all landlords to fit at least one mains-powered battery backed smoke alarm in rented residential property which will comply with grade D of British Standard 5839: Part 6 (2004). This must be in place prior to a tenancy agreement being entered into. Failure to do so will be a criminal offence and it will be triable each way. On summary conviction the maximum fine will be 12 month imprisonment or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (£5,000). On indictment the maximum penalty is a fine and/or 2 years in prison.

The bill also requires that all tenancy agreements contain provisions requiring the tenant to test the fitted smoke alarms at least once a month and to notify the landlord of any problems and a further provision requiring the landlord to remedy any problems reported by the tenant.

As with gas safety certificates there will be an exception for leases of 7 years or more.

As this is a Private Members bill it is unlikely to become law. It has been proposed by Adrian Sanders, Liberal Democrat MP for Torbay. He is not in any significant position in the coalition government and therefore the prospects for the bill being adopted seem weak unless there was some sudden public interest in improved fire standards in tenanted property.

D is a solicitor specialising in landlord and tenant matters with a London firm.

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