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


This guide will help you understand your key responsibilities as a landlord regarding fire safety, with tips on carrying out a fire risk assessment in your rented property.

Fire regulations for rental properties

If you don’t follow the latest legislation, you could be subject to penalties like fines and 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.

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.

Any furniture or furnishings supplied in your property must be 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.

It states that you 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 was amended in 2022 in England.

Different rules apply to different parts of the UK, but most require you 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.

Initially, the legislation only required you to install warning systems to protect tenants from the dangers of fire, smoke and carbon monoxide.

The 2022 amendments introduced five key changes.

1. Increasing the number of carbon monoxide alarms in rental properties

Previously, you only had to install a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that was considered living accommodation and contained a fuel appliance.

From October 1st 2022, the requirement is being extended to any room with a fixed combustion appliance. For example, you now must supply a carbon monoxide alarm in a room with a boiler. Gas cookers, however, are excluded.

This amendment means electric-powered properties will likely require more carbon monoxide alarms.

2. Landlords now responsible for repairing and replacing faulty alarms

Originally, the responsibility for repairing and replacing carbon monoxide alarms fell on tenants, not landlords. You were only responsible before the tenancy.

After 1st October 2022, you’ll be responsible for repairing or replacing faulty alarms at any point during the tenancy. The tenant must report it to you, and once this report is made, you’re under a legal obligation to investigate, repair and/or replace.

The timeframe for this isn’t clear. The legislation states a replacement is needed when “reasonably practical”, but the implication is that landlords should act ASAP.

3. Tenants still responsible for reporting faulty alarms

Tenants will still be responsible for reporting faulty alarms.

4. Local authorities to better consider landlord written defences

As with current rules, non-complying landlords will face a remedial notice and a financial penalty of up to £5,000.

However, the newer regulations will give you a better chance of defending yourself to local authorities as they’ll be under a new duty to better consider your written representations in response to remedial notices.

The notice will be suspended while the local authority reviews the decision.

5. Amendments to HMO and property licence conditions

The new regulations will be reflected in the licence conditions after October 1st, 2022.

Building Regulations

You also need to follow building regulations. All responsibility for compliance lies with landlords.

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 must 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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