Regardless of whether you are a first time letter or a seasoned private landlord with an extensive portfolio, ensuring that your tenants are safe and that your properties comply with current fire safety regulations is vital.
According to official government statistics, in 2015/16 there were approximately 529,000 incidents attended by fire and rescue services in England. In 28% of dwelling fires, no fire alarm was present and a further 11% did not have a working one. Furthermore, cooking appliances were behind 50% of accidental dwelling fires and 52% of non-fatal casualties in 2015/16.
In light of these statistics, it is imperative that landlords complete a fire risk assessment, install appropriate fire safety protection in their rental property, and have a good level of communication with tenants. This helpful resource for landlords will run through all the information you need to know to improve fire safety in rented accommodation.
To find out more about preventing fires in the most hazardous room in the home, please download our free kitchen fire safety ebook.
Fire Safety Regulations for Landlords
Both private and social landlords in England and Wales should refer to Building Regulations 2010 Part B; in Scotland the Technical Handbook (Domestic) – Fire Grade D LD2; and Northern Ireland the Technical Booklet E Grade D LD2. However, the following fire safety legislations should also be kept in mind:
- The housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS) is a risk-based evaluation tool used to aid local authorities in recognising hazards and protecting the public from potential risks.
- Applies to all residential properties in England and Wales, where all owners of residential property must guarantee a safe and healthy environment.
- Applies to England and Wales, and determines the minimum fire safety standard that landlords (or other responsible personnel) should keep their premises at.
- Legislation impacts any building operating as a business.
- Owners must conduct fire risk assessments in flats, common areas of HMOs, maisonettes and sheltered accommodation; manage hazards and actively prevent fires. Landlords must also ensure that tenants can exit the property safely.
We recently interviewed Ceri Flavell, Watch Manager in the Protection (Fire Safety) Department of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, concerning the Regulatory Reform Order. The full account can be found here.
- Regulations detail that there must be at least one smoke alarm in a highly frequented room for general daytime living (i.e. the lounge).
- There must also be an alarm in every circulation space (i.e. hallways and landings).
- In the kitchen, there should be one heat alarm and all alarms must be interlinked. CO alarms are mandatory.
Carbon Monoxide Building Regulations in the UK
- Private sector landlords are required to install at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their property. Moreover, there must be a carbon monoxide alarm (type: BS EN 50291 kitemarked carbon monoxide alarm) in any room containing solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. wood burning stove, coal fire).
- Landlords must complete a check of the alarms prior to the start of any new tenancy. Those who fail to do so risk a £5,000 fine.
Whilst there are currently no specific laws in Northern Island that demand private landlords install smoke or CO alarms, if the property is a new build, or is extended or renovated, then legally landlords are required to fit smoke and CO alarms.
In Wales, law states that landlords must fit a CO alarm if installing a new or replacing an old solid fuel burning appliance (solid fuel is coal or wood), or if installing a new or replacing an old appliance that burns any type of fuel (gas, oil, wood or coal), with the exception of cookers. To provide an adequate level of CO safety, it is recommended that landlords follow the lead of Scotland/England
Landlords should familiarise themselves with BS EN 50292 (2013), which is an installation and maintenance guide for carbon monoxide alarms in the home; and BS 5839-6 (2013), which provides recommendations for installing smoke and heat alarms in existing and new-build properties. For more resources/information, see our make sure your smoke alarms are meeting british standards blog post.
Additionally, online landlord resources such as our SONA alarm installation video guide can prove helpful for those wishing to install SONA by FireAngel products. We also have FireAngel Alarm Installation guides for smoke alarms, heat alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
Fire Safety Resources for Appliances
Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 - this specifies the requirements needed to ensure electrical equipment is safe to use in rental accommodation e.g. appliances must carry the British Safety Standard sign.
Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 This outlines the level of fire resistance needed for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other upholstery products in the rented premises.
Fire Safety Advice for Tenants
Tenants too have a big influence in preventing fires, and landlords should:
- Supply information on fire safety, such as practical advice, fire escape routes and give tutorials on how to test alarms – if you are unsure, consult our recent blog on Kitchen Safety Guidelines For Tenants.
- Implement a clear fire safety plan and information on kitchen fire safety – find our guide here.
As a landlord, it is your moral and legal duty to protect your tenants and provide a safe environment. It is imperative to comply with government-led legislation, but if you want more information, check out our Social Housing Toolkit.
Additionally, if you are a landlord wanting to check you have implemented all the essential fire safety measures in your rental accomodation, you can download our Fire Safety Checklist For Landlords here: