Barnsley MP Stephanie Peacock urges government to change 'incredibly weak' laws on carbon monoxide alarms in rented homes

A Yorkshire MP has urged the Government to change the “incredibly weak” laws so landlords are forced to fit life-saving carbon monoxide alarms in rented properties in homes with gas appliances.

Stephanie Peacock told a Commons debate that 50 deaths a year are reported to occur due to carbon monoxide poisoning and that “we are still seeing too many lives lost each year by this silent killer”.

The Barnsley East Labour MP asked what steps the Government was taking to protect people from carbon monoxide poisoning “at a time when so many are staying indoors during lockdown, with their windows closed and their heating switched on—prime conditions for CO poisoning to occur”.

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And highlighting some of the well-publicised tragedies caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, she called for an increase in alarms which are essential for the detection of what she described as a “silent killer”.

Stephanie Peacock told a Commons debate that 50 deaths a year are reported to occur due to carbon monoxide poisoning and that “we are still seeing too many lives lost each year by this silent killer”.
Stephanie Peacock told a Commons debate that 50 deaths a year are reported to occur due to carbon monoxide poisoning and that “we are still seeing too many lives lost each year by this silent killer”.

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Ms Peacock said the current law requires carbon monoxide alarms to be fitted in rooms containing a solid fuel-burning appliance but the Government’s website says only that ‘as gas appliances can emit carbon monoxide, we would expect and encourage reputable landlords to ensure that working carbon monoxide alarms are installed in rooms with these’.

The MP said: “That is where the law is incredibly weak. We know that gas appliances can and sometimes do emit deadly carbon monoxide gases, but the Government choose just to ‘expect and encourage’ landlords to install carbon monoxide alarms, instead of making that law.

“Such a law could save lives simply by ensuring that all rented properties are fitted with relatively inexpensive detectors and mandating that they are maintained regularly, instead of at the start of each tenancy, regardless of its length.”

She highlighted the report of the all-party parliamentary carbon monoxide group, which in 2017 recommended that the Government should update the existing regulations so landlords are legally obliged to provide alarms in rooms of private rented properties that contain any fuel-burning appliance, not just solid fuel appliances.

And she said that while it was “virtually impossible to know how many people are affected” by carbon monoxide poisoning, “a recent estimate predicts that it can affect between three million and five million people in the UK”.

Responding for the Government, Conservative Business Minister Paul Scully said building regulations in England require the provision of carbon monoxide alarms when solid fuel appliances are installed.

He said: “Raising awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide and the actions to be taken to minimise the risk is absolutely key and that is why this debate is so important.

“The Government’s message is also very clear. We say to householders: use a properly trained, competent and gas safe-registered engineer to undertake work in your home and have all fuel appliances serviced on a regular basis.

“It is also good sense to have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted in your home as an additional precautionary measure.

"We say to landlords: ensure that you know the legal and moral obligations on you towards the safety of your tenants from the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.”