CO Advice, Smart Home, Social Housing
Millions of UK households are expected to be hauled into fuel poverty for the first time as energy bills soar, leaving low-income households vulnerable to cold, damp and mould. In Wales alone, up to 45% of all households could be in fuel poverty following the price cap increase of April 2022.
The Welsh government has also undertaken the biggest change to its housing law in decades. The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 come into force on 1st December 2022 to ensure that both private and social rented properties in Wales are fit for human habitation. This includes regulations on fire and carbon monoxide safety, and condensation, damp and mould.
All social and private rented tenants will see changes in the way contracts are provided, homes are maintained and how communication is carried out with landlords following the update.
Landlords, both social and private, will need to comply with the new law and make the necessary updates to properties to avoid being penalised.
Under the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, one hardwired smoke alarm (mains powered) must be installed on each level of a home. The alarm must also be connected to the electrical supply and be linked to any other smoke alarms that have to be fitted under the regulations. Heat alarms should also be installed in every kitchen.
More than one smoke alarm may be fitted on each storey. If so, it is good to have all alarms inter-linked and hard-wired into the electrical supply. However, if the landlord has met the minimum requirement of one hard-wired and inter-linked smoke alarm on each storey, any additional alarms do not have to be inter-linked and can be battery powered.
Landlords are also required to ensure that a CO alarm is present in any room which has a gas, oil or solid fuel burning appliance installed by the landlord. A landlord is not required to install a CO alarm in any room which only contains an appliance installed by the contract-holder. However, the landlord and contract-holder can agree for the landlord to provide an alarm in such instances.
Under the new law, all rented properties will have to be ‘fit for human habitation’. In addition, landlords will need to keep the exterior and structure of a property in good condition and ensure any installations or appliances are in working order.
These changes coincide with a consultation on the proposed Welsh Housing Quality Standard 2023 (WHQS2023), set to replace the existing WHQ standard to improve the quality of social homes in Wales.
Updates to the revised standard reflect changes to ‘how people live, work and feel about their homes, and to start decarbonising the Welsh social housing stock at scale.’
With home safety legislation evolving at an unprecedented rate, could the measurement of temperature and humidity levels within a rental property soon be regulated?
Roger Whittingham, FireAngel’s Specification Manager, said: “Damp and mould is a growing problem in our sector, with more than a third of social housing and council tenants reporting it in their property. Alongside serious impacts on residents’ health and wellbeing, if not treated early damp and mould can lead to costly repairs for housing providers.
“Simultaneously, the UK has an estimated 6.32 million households living in fuel poverty and struggling to heat their homes.”
By deploying discreet monitoring devices that can report real-time data on temperature and humidity levels in a property, social landlords can future-proof resident homes should mandatory temperature levels be standardised.
Home safety technology specialist FireAngel is perfectly positioned to support landlords in Wales comply with the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 and prepare for WHQS2023.
FireAngel’s Home Environment Gateway enables social housing landlords to offer a level of protection and prevention measures never seen before in home safety. Our gateway is ceiling mounted and occupies the same footprint of a smoke alarm. The gateway can also be integrated with Grade D1 alarms, so no additional wiring is required.
This gateway incorporates temperature and humidity sensors as a standard to monitor the two principle indicators for damp and mould in properties.
Additionally, this gateway provides for inclusion of third-party Zigbee enabled devices allowing a landlord to create bespoke networks. All of the data gathered is uploaded to the FireAngel cloud platform Connected, where it can be processed to provide insight on the most vulnerable tenants and properties. Whilst Connected offers substantial insight via its dashboard, it also deploys open-source API code which allows full integration with a landlord’s database if required.
FireAngel’s FA3328-EUT: 10 Year Temperature and Humidity Sensor with Carbon Monoxide Alarm provides a rapid response to carbon monoxide (CO) levels in a property and offers a low-cost information gathering source on environmental conditions. Using the FireAngel Installer app, Sync-It™ (NFC technology) provides quick, quiet and contactless data extraction by holding a mobile phone over a device to transfer and securely store logged property temperature and humidity recordings.
*Please note: The above summary is based on FireAngel’s interpretation of the Renting Homes (Wales) 2016 Act, always refer to the standard for specific guidance