Friday, 10 January 2014

Eliminating the silent killer - carbon monoxide

No human sense can detect it, yet very quickly it can overcome its victims with disastrous consequences. It kills 50 people in the UK every year.

Carbon monoxide detectors are now a legal requirement in Scottish lettings properties, where new boilers or gas appliances are installed, but not in England. It’s a curious situation where someone in Gretna is legally protected, yet their friend in Carlisle currently legally neglected!

The Government has just added enabling powers to the Energy Bill, during its passage in the Lords, to introduce a requirement for carbon monoxide and/or smoke alarms in private rented properties and a review is promised not only of whether smoke or CO2 alarms should be mandatory but also of minimum standards for private rented properties.

A Derby landlord was recently prosecuted after a tenant who had reconnected a condemned gas boiler was subsequently killed by the fumes it gave off. During tests after his death, so much carbon monoxide was present that four neighbouring properties had to be evacuated.

Gas appliances had not been tested subsequent to a test arranged by the agent who introduced the tenant. The agent was not contracted to manage the tenancy and no further tests were carried out.

Landlords are culpable if tenants die in their properties from a defect that could have been foreseen or prevented, such as carbon monoxide build-up.

Here at Carter Jonas, we have taken the decision to advise landlords to adopt best practice and install carbon monoxide alarms. New appliances should already go some way towards protecting tenants, often it’s older appliances that cause the problems. The only way to manage this risk is to eliminate it by use of alarms.

Combustion appliances fuelled by solid fuel, oil, or gas all have the potential to cause carbon monoxide poisoning if they are poorly installed or commissioned, inadequately maintained or incorrectly used. As of 1 October 2010 alarms have been mandatory for newly installed stoves but this does not extend to every potentially dangerous situation.

As part of our management service for landlords, we are recommending and arranging for carbon monoxide alarms to be fitted in their properties over the next few months to both protect the occupier and give our clients peace of mind.

Lisa Simon, 
Head of Residential Lettings
T: 020 7518 3234

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