FIREFIGHTERS warned yesterday that “unscrupulous landlords” are putting lives at risk as new research shows that one in five privately rented homes are not fitted with smoke alarms.
Data from the English Housing Survey show that in the last decade the proportion of owner-occupied households with a working smoke alarm has risen from 83 per cent to 88 per cent, and local authority tenants with smoke alarms have also gone up from 80 per cent to 92 per cent.
But privately rented accommodation has not seen an increase.
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) national officer Dave Green warned that “a fifth of all private renters don’t have a smoke alarm, which means their risk of dying in a fire is far higher than those who are protected in this way.”
In October new laws came into force requiring private landlords to fit smoke alarms on each floor of their properties or face a £5,000 fine.
But fire chiefs are worried that some landlords are still refusing to install the devices.
London Fire Brigade said there had been a slow take-up in the capital of fire alarms offered by the government free to landlords in areas most at risk from fire.
The fire service said it had opened its offer up to private tenants in a bid to save lives, warning that people are four times more likely to die in a house fire if there is no smoke alarm.
London Fire Brigade’s Dave Brown said: “Unfortunately the private rented sector is an area where some of the capital’s more unscrupulous landlords operate and fire safety is not always top of their agenda.
“The properties they rent often don’t contain vital safety features like fire doors and smoke alarms, and this can put lives at serious risk if a fire breaks out.”