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About Fire Safety Regulations For Landlords and Rental Properties

About Fire Safety Regulations for Landlords

A fire in your rental property can cause devastating damage, leaving your property uninhabitable, resulting in lost rent and costly repairs. Fire regulations for rental properties are designed to minimise the risk of fires occurring, protecting both our property and more importantly your tenants.

Fire safety regulations for landlords should be a priority throughout the year, especially during the colder months and the festive seasons. Every year, there’s a spike in house fires caused by an increase in the use of heating and electrical appliances. This is paired with alcohol consumption, candle usage, Christmas trees, fairy lights, and fireplaces.

There are numerous landlord safety legal obligations that you need to comply with to ensure that your rental property is safe. If you have not provided suitable fire safety equipment and made the correct safety accommodations legal action can be taken against you.

What Are The Causes of Fire in Rentals?

There are numerous causes of fire in rental properties. Common causes, however, include: candles, faulty or untended appliances, overuse of extension leads leading to electrical fires, the use of cigarettes, deep fat fryers, and portable heaters. Most reported fire claims though are due to arson and electrical faults.

How to Reduce the Risk of Fire in Your Rental

Accidents do unfortunately happen. However, there are several practical steps that landlords and tenants can take to help prevent fires from starting and spreading.

Fire safety regulations for landlords are designed to ensure properties remain habitable and safe throughout their time in usage as a rental. Part of this is ensuring that landlords remain compliant with all legal safety obligations by following fire safety regulations to the letter. The safety precautions that landlords need to take to protect their property in their tenants include:

  • Provide a smoke alarm on each story of the property and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance.
  • Ensure tenants have access to escape routes at all times.
  • Make sure that any furniture provided by the landlord are fire safe.
  • Provide fire alarms and extinguishers if the property is large or an HMO.

Fire safety regulations for landlords are particularly strict in regards to HMOs. So, it is recommended that you contact your local council to understand specific regulations for this property type and ensure that you remain compliant.

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Additional Details on Fire Safety Regulations for Landlords

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms

Smoke and gas are the most deadly parts of a fire. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, therefore, are vital for saving lives. Landlords are required by law to have at least one working smoke alarm installed on every floor of their rental property. Plus, carbon monoxide alarms must be installed in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance.

Landlords should check these fire and carbon monoxide alarms between each tenancy and routinely during tenancies to ensure they are in good working order. Additionally, tenants should be encouraged to routinely check their alarms on a monthly basis.

Whilst these are the minimum legal requirements for a landlord, London Fire Brigade also strongly suggests an additional heat detector in the kitchen and a smoke alarm in the lounge and hallway of individual flats and houses to give early warning to residents.

People are 4 times more likely to die in a household fire if there is no smoke detectors in their home. Landlords who do not comply are breaking the law and could face:

  • Up to six months in prison
  • A fine of up to £5,000
  • A manslaughter charge in the event of a tenant death
  • Being sued for civil damages by a tenant
  • The insurance for the property can be rendered invalid

Access to escape routes

It is your responsibility as a landlord to ensure that all tenants have access to escape routes and that these escape routes remain clear to make sure that they can be used in the event of a fire. Escape routes need to have emergency lighting and the floors and walls need to be made of fire-resistant materials. These rules are much more strict for HMOs which can be larger and harder to get out of.

Fire resistant furniture and furnishings

Any furniture or furnishings provided by the landlord need to meet fire safety standards and be made from fire-resistant materials. You can usually check whether or not these furnishings meet the fire regulations standards for rental properties by checking the manufacturer labels the only items that don’t have to meet these standards are mattresses, bed bases, pillow cushions, and bed covers.

However, it is recommended that you go above the minimum requirements where you can to ensure the highest level of safety standards. On a final note, it’s important to note it is important to know that landlords not responsible for any tenant-owned furniture.

The specific law regarding furniture is set in 1988 by the The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations.

Which types of furniture are included in the legislation?

  • Sofas, three piece suites, futons, sofa beds, arm chairs and all convertible furniture
  • Furniture for a nursery
  • Beds, headboards, divans, bed bases and pillows
  • Any garden furniture that could be used inside the property
  • Scatter cushions, pads for seats, stretch covers, loose covers and fitted covers for items of furniture

What is not included?

  • Any furniture or antiques which were made before 1950.
  • Loose mattress covers, sleeping bags, pillow cases, curtains, bed covers, duvets and carpets
  • Any furniture, upholstery or equipment that is property of the tenant

Fire extinguishers and fire blankets

Fire extinguishers and blankets are only obligatory in HMOs. However, it’s a good idea to always go above the minimum requirements when thinking about safety regulations. In an HMO one fire extinguisher needs to be provided on each floor and one fire blanket needs to be provided in every kitchen.

Just like fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, extinguishers and blankets should be checked between each tenancy and routinely during the tenancy. Finally, make sure you advise tenants on the location and use of any fire safety equipment provided

HMO fire extinguisher

Fire risk assessments

For many rental properties, landlords are legally required to get periodical fire risk assessments. However, it is best practice to do so in all rentals.

These risk assessments identify possible causes of fire, highlighting potential hazards and precautions that landlords should take to reduce any like reduce chances of a fire breaking out. It is suggested fire risk assessments should be reviewed every two years and updated every four years. For older buildings and larger buildings over three storeys, this risk assessment should be reviewed annually and updated every three years.

There’s no mandatory method for fire risk assessment. But many Fire and Rescue services offer free home visits as part of their ‘Safe and Well’ initiative. These risk assessments identify potential hazards and what can be done in order to reduce and prevent a fire from breaking out. They will also ensure that smoke alarms are present and working, and help put together an escape plan in case of fire.

You can outsource this to a fire risk assessor or take the responsibility yourself. If you carry out your fire risk assessment, here are a few things to look out for as you inspect your property.

  • Are there enough smoke alarms? There should be one on each floor, but you might want to add more depending on the layout of your property.
  • Are there carbon monoxide alarms in every room that has a fuel-burning appliance?
  • Are escape routes clear? Do your tenants know their responsibility to keep them clear?
  • Do all electrical appliances you have provided have a CE or Kitemark safety label? Have they passed a PAT test in the last 12 months? There should be a sticker on each appliance showing when the next PAT is due.
  • If you provide a gas cooker or gas fire, is it lit using a built-in spark device (rather than matches)?

Fire Doors

Currently, fire doors are only a legal requirement in HMOs. If you do operate an HMO it’s important to understand and check your legal obligations for installation siting and operation of any fire doors. fire doors are effective in containing fires, delaying the spread of both fire and smoke, minimising damage to the property, and giving tenants valuable time to escape to safety.
Electrical safety inspections

Landlords are responsible for making sure that all electrical appliances and wiring is safe and working.

As part of this, as of June 2020, landlords are required to get an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). This report details the condition of all electrical installations, wiring, fuse boxes sockets, etc. This process involves a combination of inspection and testing and is essential for the continued safe use of appliances and sockets in a property.

Electrical faults are one of the leading causes of fires making this an important measurement to help protect tenants. Landlords should get their EICR renewed every three to five years.

Gas safety checks

Landlords are required by law to get an annual gas safety check from a Gas Safe registered engineer. These checks will examine appliances and flues to ensure that everything is safe to use.

Landlords must provide the tenants with a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in or within 28 days of the check. This is a legal requirement and each individual certificate has to be renewed every year. Gas safety checks will also check for the presence of carbon monoxide.

Banning smoking indoors

There are already restrictions around smoking indoors in communal areas in HMOs. However, there aren’t any such laws for single family homes.

As a landlord, you are able to restrict smoking in your tenancy agreement. This can dramatically help reduce the risk of fires and improve fire safety. On top of this, it has added benefits. Smoking indoors can lead to hard to get rid of odours as well as stains on soft furnishings and sticky residue on walls and ceilings.

Fire Safety Certificate and Other Essential Landlord Safety Certificates

Fire safety risk assessment.

Landlords must follow the fire regulations; in the event of a fire, you will need to demonstrate that you did everything reasonably possible to protect your tenants. Part of this is carrying out an annual fire risk assessment.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

You must have a valid EPC for your rental property. The EPC gives your property an energy efficiency rating between A and G. Currently the minimum energy efficiency standard is an E. EPC certificates are valid for 10 years.

Electrical safety certificate.

Regulations that came into force on 1st June 2020 require landlords to have the electrical installation in their rented properties inspected and tested every five years. You must provide your tenants with a copy of the report before they occupy the property or for existing tenants within 28 days of the inspection.

Gas safety certificate.

Checks must be conducted by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer. You must carry out the checks between 10 and 12 months since the last gas check date. You must provide your tenants with a copy within 28 days of its completion.

Legionella risk assessment.

As a landlord you should assess the risk to your tenants of exposure to Legionella. A simple assessment may show that there are no real risks and no further action is needed.

Deposit protection paperwork.

You must place your tenants’ deposit in a tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme within 30 days of receiving it and supply your tenant with the following ‘Prescribed Information’: The amount of the deposit. The address of the property. The name, address and contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme with which the deposit is held. The name, address and contact details of the landlord, tenant and any third party who have contributed to the deposit.

Governments ‘How to rent’ checklist.

Landlords should provide their tenants with a copy of the government’s guide How to rent: a checklist for renting in England. The guide can be printed and given to your tenant as a hard copy or supplied by email as a PDF.

Disclaimer: This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action Landlord Studio does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.

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