A minister has apologised after changes to the rules on smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in Scottish homes were delayed for a year due to the pandemic.
Housing minister Kevin Stewart also said he was “raging” when he saw a private company’s leaflet sent to homes, which told owners they “must” install the new alarms.
The company, AICO, had mistakenly been told it could use the Scottish Government logo.
The new regulations will mean every home in Scotland should have a smoke alarm fitted in the living room in order for the property to meet “tolerable standards”, as well as in circulation spaces such as hallways and landings.
They also require a heat alarm to be fitted in every kitchen, with alarms interlinked so they can be heard throughout a property.
Originally intended to be in place by February 2021, that date has now been pushed back to February 2022 to allow homeowners more time to fit the systems.
Speaking to Holyrood’s Local Government Committee, Mr Stewart said: “I’d like to put on record my apology for what has happened here and for any anxiety or distress that folk have experienced either from the messaging that went out from private companies or from the failure of the Scottish Government to communicate our own messages.”
He said the pandemic had created a “strong case for a one-year delay to allow people to carry out this important safety work”.
The housing minister said that while he encourages homeowners to install the alarm systems as soon as possible, it will be up to councils to declare whether properties have failed to meet the standards and order whether changes need to be made.
People trying to sell their homes will need to ensure these standards are met, he said.
Committee member Graham Simpson said he had received the leaflet from AICO and the company is still telling people on its website “you must comply with the legislation”.
Mr Stewart said: “I don’t want anyone to be in fear from any message that is put forward.
“In terms of the leaflet that went out and the situation that arose there, it would be fair to say that I was not a happy bunny about that.
“‘Raging’ could be a term that was used when I first caught sight of that leaflet.”
Some members of the committee said a one-year extension of the deadline would not be long enough in light of the economic problems created by coronavirus, with Labour MSP Sarah Boyack suggesting two years instead.
Saying some might struggle to afford the alarms, Ms Boyack told the committee: “People who, a year ago, wouldn’t see £200 as being an obstacle, the number of people who have lost their jobs in the last year before we’ve even got through the pandemic – I think a lot more needs to be done on this.”
However the committee voted by four to three in favour of the one-year extension.