No significant increase in prices from chimney sweeping reform but sweeping intervals have lengthened
The reform of chimney sweeping services, which entered into force in 2019, has not led to a significant increase in the prices of the services. On the other hand, sweeping intervals have lengthened slightly. These conclusions are presented in a study commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior from the University of Eastern Finland.
“The results of the study that has now been completed and the observations made by the monitoring group for the reform set up by the Ministry of the Interior are similar and support each other,” says Jaana Rajakko, Senior Engineer from the Ministry of the Interior.
The University of Eastern Finland examined how the legislative amendments concerning chimney sweeping have affected the functioning of the market and consumer prices and the fulfilment by properties of the chimney sweeping obligation. In the study project, the University of Eastern Finland analysed the content of the websites of chimney sweeping companies and the development of fires in buildings. The study also carried out surveys of both chimney sweeping companies and rescue departments.
“According to the study project, the implementation of the chimney sweeping reform has been quite successful and there have been no unexpected effects,” says Professor Anssi Keinänen from the University of Eastern Finland.
Chimney sweeping services were opened up to competition in 2019
The chimney sweeping services were reformed at the beginning of 2019 when the district sweeping system and the related price regulation came to an end. With sweeping services opened up to competition, sweeping service providers can now offer their services anywhere, without geographical restriction and without price regulation. The owner or occupant of a building can purchase chimney sweeping services from the provider of their choice and compare the services in their area, for example with regard to the price. Chimney sweeping service providers must comply with the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act in the marketing of their services.
All the effects of the legislative reform are not yet visible, but based on the study it seems that the carrying out of chimney sweeping in buildings has slightly declined. In practice, this is reflected in longer intervals between sweeping. However, the number of fires related to fireplaces and flues has remained at an earlier level. In addition, defects detected in fireplaces and flues are reported less frequently by chimney sweeping companies to rescue departments, even though the regulation of the reporting obligation has not changed.
The prices of chimney sweeping services have not increased significantly since the legislative reform, taking into account the general inflation rate. On the other hand, the prices charged for services of chimney sweeping companies may not be available on their websites, even though consumers should be aware of the price of a service even before the service is provided.
Competition between chimney sweeping companies increased in densely populated areas
Since the end of the district sweeping system, new companies have entered the sector. In many cases, the new entrepreneur has previously worked as an employee of a chimney sweeping company. Competition between chimney sweeping companies has increased the most in densely populated areas. Chimney sweeping companies are still small, but their areas of operation have expanded. As a result of the legislative reform, some chimney sweeping companies have increased the marketing of their services.
The views of chimney sweeping companies on the success of the legislative amendments are divided. In particular, chimney sweeps feel that property owners have not understood their responsibility to hire a chimney sweep to sweep fireplaces and flues on a regular basis. However, rescue departments, in general, considered the reform to be successful.
More communication needed about the chimney sweeping obligation of properties
In the coming years, attention should be paid to the attractiveness of the sector so that chimney sweeps and chimney sweeping services continue to be widely available in the future as well. When defects are detected during sweeping that pose a risk of fire, the information should be reported to rescue departments better than occurs at present. There is still a need to communicate more effectively about the chimney sweeping obligation of properties.
The Ministry of the Interior will submit a written report to Parliament on the implementation and follow-up of the legislative amendments by the end of this year. The report to be submitted to Parliament will be based on the results of the study by the University of Eastern Finland and on the follow-up findings of the monitoring group for the reform.