THE Scottish Government has completed a u-turn on controversial fire alarm safety laws which critics said would cause financial hardship and cause a household insurance crisis.
Ministers will ask parliament to delay new regulations on smoke and carbon monoxide alarms by 12 months due to the impact of coronavirus. It be down to MSPs to rubber stamp the move.
It comes a day after the Herald revealed that those who did not comply within the next 15 weeks could see their household insurance voided.
Legislation due to come into effect on February 1, next year meant the standard which currently applies to private rented property and new-builds would have been extended to all homes in Scotland.
But ministers have accepted that due to the “practical difficulties” likely to be faced by homeowners seeking to make the necessary changes to their homes, that the would now seek to move implementation back to February 2022.
Kevin Stewart, local government and housing ministers said: “Fire safety is an absolute priority for the Scottish Government, and we remain committed to implementing these improved regulations, which will mean everyone will benefit from the same level of protection, whether they own their home or rent from a social or private landlord.
“Given the impact of COVID-19, and the difficulties this is likely to create for people seeking to install new smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, we have listened to concerns and decided to ask the Scottish Parliament to delay implementation.
“If this delay is approved, we will continue to work with partners to spread awareness of the changes before the new deadline. Our focus will be on supporting householders to ensure satisfactory fire alarms are installed so we can improve the safety of their homes.”
The row over giving such short notice over the changes came after the Scottish Government last week published details of the new laws and a Q and A on what it meant.
Specialist companies began sending leaflets to households across Scotland warning of the impending deadline of February 1.
Under the terms of the new rules, published by the Scottish Government last week, Scottish homeowners must have a ceiling-mounted smoke alarm in their living room, hallways and landings and a heat alarm in every kitchen.
The alarm system must be interlinked.
And carbon monoxide alarms should be fitted where there is a fuel burning appliance or a flue.
Both Age Scotland and Scottish Conservative Party leader Douglas Ross called on the Scottish Government to delay the move.
Age Scotland said it had been bombarded with concerns from worried older people who are worried about the short notice and how they can comply with under the current coronavirus restrictions over people coming into a house.
READ MORE: The Scottish Government Q&A – What they said you needed to know about the new Scots law regarding home fire alarms
The legislation was first mooted as a result of recent fire tragedies, including Grenfell and covers all homes, both in the private and social housing sectors.
The fire which destroyed Grenfell Tower in June 2017 was one of the UK’s worst modern disasters and 72 people died.
According to the new law, all homeowners or landlords will have to fund the costs of the alarms estimated by the Scottish Government to be at least £220 – but this only applies to alarms that can be fitted without the help of an electrician.
Private companies have been known to quote up to £600 to fit a system of alarms.
The Association of British Insurers confirmed that householders could face issues with cover if they did not comply with the law.
An ABI spokeswoman insurers expect for homeowners to ensure that their property meets legal requirements, complying with relevant building standards and fire safety standards.