Smoke alarms in private rental market gains momentum
Former local government and fire service minister Nick Raynsford brought the issue to the House of Commons on Wednesday (May 7th) directly after the Prime Minister's Question Time.
In total, 245 MPs were behind the motion, with just eight voting against. As a result, this bill will receive a second reading in June.
It is possible to make this proposition part of the law, if a Statutory Instrument is introduced, due to a clause in the Energy Act 2013.
However, up until recently, the issue has been pushed to one side as a government consultation paper branded it a regulatory burden.
Speaking before the House of Commons, Mr Raynsford said it was "absurd" to call this matter a regulatory burden, when the device costs as little as £15 and can last for as long as a decade.
"It is a matter of life and death. Without a smoke alarm, you are four times more likely to die in a fire," he said.
As private tenants already know their landlord is obliged to issue a gas safety certificate, the former fire service minister urged it to be the case that smoke alarms should be mandatory upon moving into a property.
According to Inside Housing, he cited that 82 per cent of private sector homes had a functioning smoke alarm, while 89 per cent of council properties and 93 per cent of housing association accommodation had working devices.
Several MPs have spoken to local newspapers, lending their support to the proposals.
Don Valley MP Caroline Flint was one of the 245 MPs who voted in favour on Wednesday and she told the Doncaster Free Press that making this a law would help to prevent fatalities.
Ms Flint highlighted how two-year-old Libby-Jayne Hornsby died in a blaze in a rented home in Conisbrough, which did not have a working device.
"The tragic accident that took away Libby-Jayne Hornsby is not an isolated incident. Years after smoke alarms have become commonplace, one in five privately rented homes still does not have a smoke alarm."
She added that the evidence was "clear" that smoke detectors save lives and, as a result of the alarm being raised quicker, most fires are discovered in "less than five minutes".
Wentworth & Dearne MP and former housing minister John Healey told the Star he did not agree that the proposal would be a regulatory burden for the government and backed the motion.
However, Conservative MP Philip Davies was opposed to the idea, giving several different reasons behind his disapproval.
He pointed out it would be difficult for landlords to have regular and guaranteed access to homes, and asked how they would could be held liable if tenants tampered with the fire safety devices.
Mr Davies also said he thought it was unrealistic for property owners to inspect alarms in their portfolio houses and flats.
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.