A landlord's guide to fire risk assessment in rental properties

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If you’re a landlord, fire safety regulations mean you must take certain precautions for the health and safety of your tenants. It’s in your interest to make sure the home you rent out has been thoroughly assessed for risk of fire.

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This guide will help you understand your key responsibilities as a landlord when it comes to fire safety, with tips on how to carry out a fire risk assessment in the property you’ll be renting out.

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Fire regulations for rental properties

Fire safety regulations sometimes change due to amended legislation or because of court cases, so it’s important to learn about your landlord responsibilities around health and safety. Ignorance isn’t an excuse – if you’re unaware of a regulation and fail to follow it, you could be subject to severe penalties such as hefty fines or even jail time.

The fire regulations for rental properties are outlined through different laws. To make understanding your responsibilities easier, we’ve outlined some of the most important ones below.

Keep up to date with the rules and regulations for landlords in England, Scotland and Wales. 

Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988/1989, 1993 and 2010

These regulations outline the minimum levels of fire resistance the furniture and furnishings in your rental property must have. As a landlord, you need to make sure any furniture or furnishings supplied in your property are suitably labelled to show they meet the specified ignition resistance levels.

The Housing Act 2004

This act, which includes the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), describes many of the fire safety responsibilities applicable to landlords in the UK. In particular, it states landlords should make sure there’s an easy escape route in case of fire, and fire-resistant materials should be used where possible in the design of the building.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (2005)

This fire safety order says the responsible person for multi-occupied residential buildings (for example, a landlord) must carry out a fire assessment in communal areas, making sure precautions and procedures are in place to protect the occupants in case of fire. It only applies to shared communal areas, such as shared kitchens or hallways in a block of flats.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015

This legislation requires landlords to install warning systems to protect tenants from the dangers of fire, smoke and carbon monoxide. Different rules apply to different parts of the UK, but most require landlords to install a smoke alarm on every floor and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a fuel burning appliance, such as a wood burning stove.

Building Regulations

Following the latest fire safety rules set out in building regulations is essential if you’re refurbishing a property before letting it out. Whether you’re doing the work yourself or hiring a contractor to complete it on your behalf, the responsibility for compliance lies with you.

Landlord fire risk assessment: key things to consider

When carrying out a risk assessment in a rental property, walk around the house or flat and look for potential fire hazards such as:

  1. Areas of the home that need reliable smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. At least one smoke alarm per floor is a UK-wide requirement, but you may need to take additional precautions depending on where the property is located
  2. Escape routes that aren’t clear or easy to exit the building from. Make sure your tenants understand their responsibility to keep the exits clear, too
  3. Electrical appliances that don’t display the necessary European or British safety labels. These include the CE mark for European products and the kitemark for British products. If they don’t display this label, they need to be replaced
  4. Appliances that haven’t been PAT (portable appliance test) tested each year
  5. An old or faulty gas cooker that needs to be lit using matches rather than a spark device. This should be fixed or upgraded according to fire safety regulations.

What are the fire safety rules for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)?

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) require additional fire safety precautions, although the specific conditions will depend on where the property is. Your local housing authority will be able to advise you on the regulations that apply to your property – contact them to find out which rules affect you.

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