Smoke alarm

THE SCOTTISH government has decided to delay the new regulations on smoke and carbon monoxide alarms by 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Herald Scotland reported on the decision by the Scottish government to delay the new laws, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the news outlet adding that the ‘controversial’ new laws had been criticised for potentially causing ‘financial hardship’ and a ‘household insurance crisis’, because ‘those who did not comply within the next 15 weeks’ – before the delay – ‘could see their household insurance voided’.

The legislation was due to come into effect on 1 February 2021, and would have seen the standard that applies to private rented property and new builds ‘extended to all homes in Scotland’, but ministers decided that due to ‘practical difficulties’ that homeowners would likely face in ‘seeking to make the necessary changes to their homes’, the government ‘would now seek to move implementation back to February 2022’.

Criticisms had come after the government published details of the new laws, with specialist companies then sending leaflets to households ‘warning of the impending deadline’. The new laws will require Scottish homeowners to have a ceiling mounted smoke alarm in their living room, hallways and landings, as well as a heat alarm in every kitchen, with the system ‘interlinked’ and carbon monoxide alarms fitted ‘where there is a fuel burning appliance or a flue’.

All homeowners or landlords will have to fund the costs of alarms, estimated by the government to be at least £220, but this only applies to alarms ‘that can be fitted without the help of an electrician’. Age Scotland had called for a delay, stating it ‘had been bombarded with concerns from worried older people’ concerned about the short notice ‘and how they can comply with’ the rules under the current COVID-19 restrictions surrounding house visitors.

The Association of British Insurers meanwhile confirmed that householders could ‘face issues with cover if they did not comply’, with a spokeswoman adding that insurers expected homeowners ‘to ensure that their property meets legal requirements’, as well as ‘complying with relevant building standards and fire safety standards’.

Kevin Stewart, local government and housing minister, said: ‘Fire safety is an absolute priority for the Scottish Government, and we remain committed to implementing these improved regulations, which will mean everyone will benefit from the same level of protection, whether they own their home or rent from a social or private landlord.

‘Given the impact of COVID-19, and the difficulties this is likely to create for people seeking to install new smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, we have listened to concerns and decided to ask the Scottish Parliament to delay implementation. If this delay is approved, we will continue to work with partners to spread awareness of the changes before the new deadline.

‘Our focus will be on supporting householders to ensure satisfactory fire alarms are installed so we can improve the safety of their homes.’