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Fire safety advice for Landlords

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- Published 3rd September 2019

Renting property comes with its own set of requirements, the most important of which concern the safety of your building and its tenants. It’ll come as no surprise that this will extend beyond just ensuring you have working fire alarms in the residence. Any landlord who rents property in the UK needs to adhere to the very latest fire safety legislation.

So, what does the very latest fire safety advice for landlords include? Do you need to supply fire extinguishers or is this just the case with HMOs (House of Multiple Occupancy)? In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about how to keep your tenants and your property safe from fire.

How many smoke alarms are required in a rental property?

It’s always a good idea to go above and beyond the recommended safety requirements – particularly when it comes to the number of fire alarms you have.

In the UK, the law states that you should have fire alarms located on every level of a rental property. What’s more, any room with a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a wood burning stove) must have a heat or smoke detector.

If your rental property is in Scotland, you’ll need to make further provisions to ensure that:

1. There are functioning smoke alarms in all rooms which are used for daytime living.
2. There’s at least one smoke alarm in hallways and landings.
3. A heat alarm is fitted in the kitchen.
4. All alarms are interlinked.

You may be wondering what ‘interlinked’ actually means? When using more than one fire alarm in your property, it’s a good idea to ensure that these work in a circuit – so, if one is triggered, every alarm will sound, alerting all members of the household. Sentinel fire alarms are interconnected and so work well in this respect. Completely wireless, you can include up to 20 devices in your circuit, providing a maximum coverage of 100 metres.

It stands to reason that you should test the fire alarms every time you visit the property – and instruct your tenants to do so during the periods in between. 

Are fire extinguishers required in rental properties?

Unless you’re the landlord of an HMO, you’re not legally obligated to provide fire extinguishers – but, in the spirit of going above-and-beyond what’s necessary, it might be a good idea to include at least one in your kitchen, for instance.

In an HMO, you’re legally required to have at least one fire extinguisher on each level of your property, as well as a fire blanket in high risk areas, such as the kitchen.

Do I need to conduct a home fire risk assessment?

It’s a given that you’ll need to arrange a home fire safety assessment prior to renting it out. To do this, a ‘competent person’ will need to properly assess the potential fire risks. It is possible for the landlord to be considered as such, as long as you’ve sought appropriate advice and have the right documentation – such as an official fire risk assessment form.

Bear in mind, if the worst should happen, the ‘I didn’t know’ defence will not apply here. If you’re at all unsure about how to conduct a fire safety assessment, bring in the professionals.

At a glance, what are the fire safety regulations for Landlords?

According to The Housing Act 2004, including the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS), Landlords have a legal obligation to ensure the following:

1. All of your supplied electronics have a British or European safety mark and are Portable Appliance Tested (PAT) each year.
2. If you have a gas hob, make sure it can only be lit with an in-built spark device, as opposed to a match.
3. Escape routes are kept clear and there are no obvious fire hazards in the property (such as tea towels kept near the oven).
4. All furniture and furnishings include fire safety labels. Take photos of these in your inventory and check the labels haven’t been damaged or removed by your tenants during your inspections (see more: Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 2010).

For more fire safety tips, read our article: How to prevent kitchen fires