Fire safety regulations and tips for landlords
As a landlord, you have a number of obligations, including responsibility for the safety of your tenants. You should do everything that could reasonably be expected of you to protect your tenants. If you are a landlord of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) there are higher levels of safety regulations that need to be adhered to.
There are a number of fire safety regulations for rented properties that you need to be aware of. As well as protecting your tenants, fire claims can be extremely costly. In 2017, 27 per cent of claims experienced with a high reserve were as a result of a fire, with the highest fire claim worth £165,000.
Common causes of fire include candles, appliances being left on, overuse of extension leads, cigarettes, deep fat frying pans and portable heaters. This guide outlines your responsibilities and how to minimise and prevent the risk of fire.
What are the fire safety responsibilities for landlords?
By law, rental properties must have the following:
A fire risk assessment
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, landlords are required to carry out periodical fire risk assessments in the common areas of HMOs, flats, maisonettes and sheltered accommodation. A fire risk assessment is a careful analysis of the property and the likelihood that a fire could start and cause harm.
The risk assessment should identify the level of risk that any hazards may present and the suitable precautions that will be taken. For an HMO or large portfolio, we advise employing a qualified Fire Risk Assessor to carry out the assessment.
Access to escape routes at all times
It is vital that tenants within the property are able to escape in the event of a fire. An HMO requires an escape route lit with emergency lighting that can resist fire, smoke and fumes long enough for everyone to leave. This could be an external fire escape or specially treated fire resistant internal stairs and corridors.
All doors leading to the escape route need to be fire resistant and must close automatically. No matter what the property, we would recommend fitting self-closing doors to all rooms in order to help contain a fire should there be one.
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Fire safe furniture and furnishings
If you let a furnished property you must be careful when selecting furniture.
All upholstered furnishings needs to be made from a fire resistant material. When buying furniture for your rental property, you can check it is fire resistant by ensuring that the manufacturers’ label displays the fire safe symbol.
The only items that may not have the fire safe symbol are mattresses, bed-bases, pillows, cushions and covers.
Fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
As of October 2015 all landlords were required to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in every private rented property in England in order to make homes safer for tenants.
A working smoke alarm must be fitted on all floors of your rental property and carbon monoxide detectors must be fitted in any room with fuel burning appliances (for example a coal fire or wood burning stove) or you could be faced with a £5,000 fine.
Landlords must test that each alarm works correctly at the start of every tenancy but it is the tenant’s responsibility to ensure the alarms continue to work throughout their tenancy by carrying out regular tests.
Fire extinguishers aren’t obligatory (unless it is a HMO where at least one fire extinguisher has to be provided on every floor) but they are a good idea and show you take your tenants safety seriously. If you do provide extinguishers you must arrange for them to be serviced regularly. A HMO also needs at least one fire blanket in each shared kitchen.