Nicola Sturgeon is under pressure to tackle the “mounting chaos” surrounding new fire safety regulations as the deadline approaches.
New laws requiring all households in Scotland have interlinked fire alarm systems will come into force in two weeks, in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
But the legislation has been hit by problems, including a lack of public awareness, concerns over affordability and even shortages of the necessary equipment.
For the households which still fall short of the standards there are concerns their insurance policies will be invalidated when the new laws come into place.
It comes after we revealed startling data about the number of house fires across the north and north-east which happened in properties without a smoke alarm fitted.
Most homeowners don’t even know these laws exist.
– Labour MSP Mark Griffin
Scottish Labour demanded the SNP leadership explains to parliament what how they plan to solve the problem.
Mark Griffin, the party’s housing spokesman, said ministers “need to deal with this fiasco”.
He added: “We are now just two weeks away from these rules hitting homeowners, potentially making their home insurance worthless.
“It beggars belief that the SNP are still refusing to consider a delay, despite mounting chaos around the new rules.
“Most homeowners don’t even know these laws exist, and those who do are being hit by supply shortages and hefty bills.
“The SNP cannot keep ignoring the mess they have made of this policy.
“They need to give an urgent statement to parliament this week so we can get the answers homeowners need.”
New fire safety standards
Scotland will become the first nation in the UK to have such legislation when it comes into effect next month.
The new legislation will cost homeowners an average of £220, if alarms are fitted by the homeowner rather than a tradesperson.
The Scottish Government has said the new rules will “allow flexibility for home owners unable to install alarms by February 1”, adding that “no one will be criminalised if they need more time and there are no penalties for non-compliance”.
However, the Scottish Government website says “different home insurance policies will have different terms and conditions which a homeowner must comply with in order for their home insurance to be valid”.
Insurance firms ‘aware’ of changes
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This legislation was introduced to protect lives and property following the tragic Grenfell fire, ensuring that owner-occupied and social rented homes meet exactly the same standards already in place in new build properties and the private rental sector.
“We have engaged throughout the legislative process with the Association of British Insurers who advise member firms are aware of the upcoming changes to fire alarms legislation from February 2022 and have indicated that insurers may ask a customer questions about whether the property is fitted with working fire alarms, but are not likely to ask questions about specific standards.
“Anyone who is unclear on their policy terms and conditions in relation to the new law in Scotland should speak to their insurer.”