New hope for MP's fire alarm safety campaign
A CAMPAIGN to improve fire safety by Torbay MP Adrian Sanders has taken a positive step forward.
Mr Sanders has been calling for improved fire safety in rented homes in the wake of the tragedy which claimed the lives of Stephanie Wojak and Ben McAuliffe in Ellacombe in 2009.
But a bid to secure a law change to make smoke alarms compulsory in rented properties failed after budget debates meant there was a lack of parliamentary time.
He has now raised the issue with the Housing Minister Grant Shapps.
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The Lib-Dem politician says a simplified document could include legal fire safety standards and rules governing anti-social behaviour.
Mr Shapps has agreed to look at drawing up a charter of requirements for all landlords and tenants in the private rented housing sector.
In a question to Mr Shapps, he said: "One way of reducing the regulatory burden on landlords but also improving the safety and security for tenants, would be to provide a central, standardised document, containing all landlord and tenant responsibilities from fire safety to anti-social behaviour.
"The planning system has benefited from a process of simplification. Can you do likewise with the private rented housing sector?"
Responding, Mr Shapps said: "I am pleased to report that standards are certainly improving in the private rented sector, satisfaction levels are higher than, for example, in the social sector... but I like the sound of your idea and I will certainly have a look at it.
"It sounds like it might be something comparative to a template lease and is something worth further consideration."
Mr Sanders said afterwards: " It is always very helpful when they are prepared to listen to find a way forward.
"It has long been my view in this battle that it is not about additional regulation but rebuilding it in a simpler form."
Alan Coxon, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service's community safety prevention manager, said: "Any development and improvement to the safety of persons within their homes, either in privately rented or through housing association landlords, is a step in the right direction.
"More people die in their own homes from fire than in any other type of premises, but even when the rate is at its lowest for many years, any death is one too many.
"The simplest and most effective way to protect yourself and your family from the destruction of fire is to have a working smoke detector."