John calls for new law for smoke alarms in rented homes

JOHN Healey is backing calls for the provision of smoke alarms in private rented homes to be mandatory.

The Wentworth & Dearne MP and former housing minister sponsored a 10-minute rule Bill introduced by Labour’s former fire minister Nick Raynsford MP yesterday.

One in five private rented properties does not have a smoke alarm – that’s more than 4,500 households or 10,000 people in Rotherham and Barnsley.

Mr Healey said: “Private rented homes are more likely to be without a smoke alarm than social or owned houses.

“Without a smoke alarm, you are four times more likely to die in a fire. It’s a matter of life and death.

“It’s a simple, lifesaving measure but the Government are saying updating the regulations to make this law would be a ‘regulatory burden’ – even though fitting a smoke alarm with a 10 year battery only costs about £15.”

Last year, two-year-old Libby-Jayne Hornsby died in a house fire at her mum’s rented property in Conisborough, South Yorkshire. Fire chiefs stay she might be alive if alarms had been installed.

The Energy Act 2013 contains a clause which makes it possible for Ministers to make this measure law. It is up to the Secretary of State to lay an order to bring in this power. But a recent Government consultation paper cited ‘regulatory burden’ as an excuse not to make smoke alarm installation obligatory.

Labour is also supporting the Bill, which calls on the Secretary of State to lay an order by January 2015.