Landlords are being urged to step up and ensure that all rented properties and accommodation meet recent laws relating to carbon monoxide alarms.
The legislation, which came into effect in Autumn 2015, states that smoke alarms must be installed on every floor of a property and be tested ahead of any new tenancy, with carbon monoxide alarms placed in every room containing a solid-fuel burning appliance, including wood burners and open fires.
However, a survey we carried out identified that only 6% of students are aware that their digs is likely to need a CO alarm whilst only a third (32%) of student accommodation is believed to have a working CO alarm.
To stop students being at risk from the 'silent killer', landlords and letting agents are being reminded of their obligations to install lifesaving detectors.
Servicing of appliances and alarms should also be high on the agenda as new tenants move in, as well as the installation of alarms.
Our survey discovered that just one in eight people in rented accommodation were aware of a landlord’s duty to provide a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms with a solid-fuel burning appliance in their properties. This contrasts with the overwhelming four in five people who are aware that a smoke alarm must be provided.
Renters were also shown in the poll to be unaware of a landlord’s responsibility to provide an up to date gas safety certificate. Only four in 10 had asked for this when moving into rented accommodation.
Our research also reveals a worrying lack of knowledge among the public of how to detect CO, the so-called ‘silent killer’.
When asked how you would know the gas is present, 28% of people believe you can smell it, 8% think you can taste it, 6% answered see it, 2% insist you can hear it, while 1% of those asked reckon you are able to touch it.
Key indicators that carbon monoxide is present in your property and things to warn your tenants to look out for are: if the cooker flames are yellow or orange, sooty marks on walls around boilers, stoves or gas fire covers, pilot lights that frequently go out or there is increased condensation inside windows.
Carbon monoxide myth-busters
True or False: It is possible to smell carbon monoxide being emitted in the home.
Answer: False. Carbon monoxide is both colourless and odourless so is almost impossible to detect without an alarm.
True or False: Carbon monoxide poisoning is extremely difficult to diagnose.
Answer: True. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to that of flu so it makes diagnosis very difficult. They include; headaches, nausea, dizziness, tiredness, confusion and eventually loss of consciousness.
Currently, GPs don’t all have access to equipment to check carbon monoxide levels and the only way to the presence of carbon monoxide is with a blood test. Some 46% of GPs have seen patients with carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms but only 18% say that they wouldn’t consider CO poisoning as a diagnosis. Find out more about the symptoms of CO here.
True or False: Carbon monoxide won’t leak if I have new gas appliances or if I have my appliances serviced regularly.
Answer: False. Although having brand new gas appliances, such as a new hob or boiler, will significantly reduce the chances of them leaking carbon monoxide it doesn’t rule them out.
CO can be emitted from appliances new or old and if you’re worried you should see your GP. Regular servicing of your gas appliances is the best way to reduce the risk of your property being subject to a CO leak and having an alarm fitted is the best way of detecting if and when something has gone wrong.
True or False: Carbon Monoxide can only leak from my boiler.
Answer: False. Carbon Monoxide can leak from any gas appliance in your property. This could include an oven, gas fire, or a boiler.
CO is produced when there is not enough oxygen to form carbon dioxide. For example, when a flame is burnt in a poorly ventilated space. This is why it is extremely dangerous to barbecue in a tent as there is often too little oxygen for carbon dioxide to be produced and so carbon monoxide is released instead.
One of the main things to look out for in your property are if flames on gas appliances burn a yellow or orange colour rather than blue as this could mean that they are not burning properly.
For a more information on how you can keep your tenants safe from the dangers of Carbon Monoxide, visit this webpage.
*Peter Southcott is managing director of CORGI HomePlan
**This article has been updated to reflect the fact that carbon monoxide alarms are legally required in rooms with a solid-fuel burning appliance.