The Scottish Government is due to introduce new legislation regarding fire and smoke detectors in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 (Tolerable Standard) (Extension of Criteria) Order 2019 is due to come into force on 1 February 2021 and will extend the ‘tolerable standard’ set out in section 86 of the 1987 Act.
The changes in the Order will apply not just to properties which are occupied by tenants, but all residential properties. Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and owner occupiers will both be expected to comply (private residential landlords are already subject to more rigorous fire safety standards). Amongst the changes, the fire safety standard required in all properties will be:
- A minimum of one smoke alarm in the room occupied most frequently during the day
- A minimum of one smoke alarm in hallways and landings on every storey
- A minimum of one heat alarm in every kitchen
- All alarms being ceiling mounted
- All alarms being interlinked
There are also proposals to introduce a 10 year maximum lifetime for such alarms and to require carbon monoxide detectors be installed in all homes.
The legislation which will give effect to the above is yet to be finalised, but it would be prudent for RSLs in particular to be mindful of these changes that are coming.
Difficulties may arise where RSLs provide factoring services for blocks which are partly owner occupied and partly let to tenants. Is there any way RSLs can ensure owner occupiers in factored blocks have the minimum fire safety requirements and are there any consequences if they don’t?
It is not yet clear what actions will be taken to ensure owner occupier compliance with the fire safety changes but the Scottish Government have considered the problems which may arise with regulating compliance. However, we do know that the bodies responsible for ensuring compliance will be the Scottish Housing Regulator for RSLs and local authorities for owner occupiers.
Some possible methods of regulation may include incorporating the requirements through insurance policies, or requiring a demonstration of compliance at the point of a property sale.