Fire safety is essential for landlords, especially in recent times after incidents such as Grenfell Tower seen here where there is a clear need to make sure there are the right regulations conducted before properties are constructed.
You may have to refund a deposit as a landlord or risk your reputation as a landlord as having poor property planning if you don’t follow these regulations.
Which of the fire safety regulations are mandatory?
In the process of making sure that a building is compliant with fire safety for landlords, it makes sense to first check if the fire safety regulations are mandatory as it may not make sense to go above and beyond all of the time and doing the bare minimum is acceptable.
For developers and landlords, resources and finances can often be tight anyway so it is vital that you consider the regulations in place so that you can ensure you stay on the right side of the law.
Certain things must be done for fire safety because they are legally required. To begin, install a smoke alarm on each floor, as well as a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a fixed combustion appliance, with the exception of gas cookers.
It’s also critical to ensure that escape routes are always accessible and that any furniture or furnishings you provide are fire resistant. Fire alarms and extinguishers are required for larger properties in multiple occupation (HMO).
You can learn more about these requirements by visiting the government’s Landlord’s Safety Responsibilities website here.
What are the fire safety regulations for rented properties?
Landlords have a clear responsibility for fire safety when renting out properties, but what are the specific laws that they must follow?
The regulations for fire safety in rented properties are outlined in various Acts, and we’ve included links to them below for your convenience but you can read more about the most up to date fire safety act of 2021 here.
However, it’s important to note that these requirements can vary from one area to the next, so do your research and consult with local authorities as needed.
What are the sections of the law you must follow?
There are a few parts of the law that are mandatory to follow and they are related to the parts of a building that are available in a standard property. They are listed below.
Furniture and furnishings regulations
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988/1989, 1993, and 2010 follow (which can be found via the original Act).
If you intend to furnish your property before renting it out, you must ensure that all furnishings are safe and adhere to these regulations.
These regulations apply to any item that contains upholstery, including curtains, pillows, and throws, as well as sofas, sofa beds, and mattresses.
Building Regulations are also important for fire safety, especially if you’re building or renovating a property before renting it out. You must ensure that all work is done in accordance with the law. The National Residential Landlords Association can help with this.
The regulatory reform
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (2005) addresses fire safety in communal shared areas. If you own an HMO or a block of flats, you must ensure that communal areas such as hallways and stairwells are safe.
The smoke and carbon monoxide alarm
Finally, the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 are in effect. These rules require landlords to install warning systems in their properties to alert tenants in the event of a fire.
You must have a smoke alarm on each floor of the property (including bathrooms and toilets), as well as a CO alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance (gas appliances do not require one). Noncompliance with these regulations can result in hefty fines.
What should fire safety be like in flats?
In order to understand what fire safety should be like in flats, it is useful to make a note of what causes the fire in a flat and how to reduce the risk of fire as a result.
It is only once you’re able to find out where the most fires are coming from that you are able to make any reduction as all fires must be tracked in order to find out how they can be treated.
What are the causes of fire?
In the UK, the most common cause of fire is cooking and it causes more fire related injuries than anything else. This includes fire related to gas hobs, electrical cookers, toasters and microwaves.
Some of the fires happen from the misuse and neglect of equipment, Including using equipment in the wrong way and not following the right safety regulations but some are due to faulty equipment.
How can you reduce the risk of a fire?
In order to reduce the risk of fire, one of the first things you can do is make sure that a property has the correct gas safety installed in it so that the landlord is able to be sure that all equipment is approved by a gas safety engineer.
How does fire safety work in HMOs?
Living with a large number of strangers can be dangerous, especially when it comes to fire safety regulations in Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs). As a result, HMOs are subject to different rules, particularly if they require a licence.
Fire safety regulations in HMOs include keeping all exits clear of obstructions, ensuring that all necessary equipment, such as fire extinguishers, blankets, and fire alarms, is properly installed and in good working order.
Also, clearly marking fire exits, and providing tenants with instructions on what to do in the event of a fire is essential as a part of the regulations to ensure a tenant’s safety.
Furthermore, annual gas safety checks and electrical checks every five years are required. It’s critical to stay in touch with your local government because regulations can change and you’ll need to follow current guidelines.
What are a landlords’ fire safety responsibilities?
Landlords have a significant responsibility to follow specific fire safety regulations when it comes to private rental properties. Landlords must take the necessary precautions to protect their tenants and property.
Landlords are legally required to follow specific guidelines, including providing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and ensuring tenants have constant access to escape routes.
They should also make certain that the furniture and furnishings provided are fire resistant. Fire alarms and extinguishers must also be provided in large Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).
It’s important to note that HMO regulations are particularly stringent, so getting in touch with your local council is essential for understanding the specific regulations that apply when renting out an HMO.
Carbon monoxide alarms and smoke
Landlords have specific legal responsibilities to keep their tenants safe from fires in rental properties. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are essential because they are the leading causes of death in fires.
Landlords are required by law to have at least one working smoke alarm on each floor, as well as a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance.
Landlords should also inspect alarms during routine property inspections and encourage tenants to check them monthly.
Individual flats and houses should have additional heat detectors in the kitchen and smoke alarms in the lounge and hallway, according to the London Fire Brigade as a use class order.
Find the access to escape routes
Landlords must also ensure that tenants have constant access to safe and reliable escape routes. This includes fire-resistant walls and floors as well as emergency lighting.
HMOs have stricter rules, so it’s critical to have them evaluated by someone with fire risk assessment experience.
What are the fire-safe furniture and furnishings?
Landlords must also provide fire-safe furniture and furnishings, which can be identified by looking for a fire safety symbol on the manufacturer’s label.
Fire blankets and extinguishers
Although fire extinguishers are only required in large HMOs, they are a good idea regardless of property type. In HMOs, landlords should also provide one fire blanket per kitchen.
Fire risk assessment
Fire risk assessments are required by law every two years, but older buildings or those with more than three stories should be reviewed annually. It’s worth noting that most fire departments provide free home visits as part of their ‘Safe and Well’ initiative to identify potential fire hazards in the home.
The installation of fire doors is one of the most important safety features that landlords must consider. While only HMOs are legally required to have fire doors, it’s worth considering installing one in other rental properties’ kitchens as an extra precaution.
Fire doors can effectively contain and delay the spread of fires, giving tenants more time to escape to safety. Landlords must also inform their tenants not to prop open fire doors.
Electrical safety inspection
Electrical safety is another critical aspect of safety. Landlords are responsible for keeping electrical wiring, sockets, and fuse boxes in good working order throughout the tenancy.
New regulations announced in January 2019 require landlords to have their electrical installations inspected and tested every five years by a qualified and competent person.
Landlords must provide a copy of the EICR and EPC to their tenants, and the regulations went into effect for new tenancies on 1 June 2020 and will apply to existing tenancies on 1 April 2021.
Portable appliance testing
Landlords must also ensure that any electrical appliances provided are in good working order and bear a British or European safety mark.
Portable appliance testing (PAT) is recommended if any type of electrical appliance is provided in the rental property, particularly in larger properties such as HMOs, where more electrical appliances are provided, increasing the risk of something going wrong.
Landlords must also warn tenants about the dangers of using extension leads to overload sockets and ensure that there are enough sockets in each room to prevent this from happening.
Gas safety check
Landlords must also ensure that any gas equipment supplied is installed and maintained safely by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Gas safety checks should be performed on each appliance and flue, and landlords must provide a copy of the gas safety check record to their tenants before they move in or within 28 days of the check. Gas safety checks will also look for carbon monoxide, which is poisonous and can be fatal.
Banning smoking indoors
Finally, landlords can include a clause in the tenancy agreement prohibiting smoking. Because cigarettes cause a significant portion of accidental house fires, prohibiting smoking indoors reduces the likelihood of burns to floors.
Tenants’ fire safety responsibilities
You have legal obligations as a landlord to ensure fire safety in your rental properties. However, it is also your tenants’ responsibility to keep fires from starting. To help mitigate risks, it is critical to communicate effectively with your tenants about fire safety measures.
To begin, you can thoroughly explain fire safety precautions to your tenants, such as the importance of regularly testing smoke alarms, and request that they contact you immediately if they have any concerns.
Second, you can offer tips on how to avoid electrical fires, such as unplugging appliances when not in use and avoiding overloading extension cords and plug sockets.
You can also advise them to keep Christmas decorations and candles away from heat sources, to use flammable substances as little as possible, and to be prepared in case of an emergency.
Ensuring that tenants understand how to keep escape routes and exits clear of obstructions and not prop open fire doors is also a good idea and.
Finally, make certain that combustible objects are not stored near boilers or fuse boxes.
In practice, some of these measures may be difficult to implement, and not all tenants will adhere to the rules. Putting all of your advice in writing, however, shows that you’ve done everything possible to reduce the likelihood of a fire and protect your tenants.
What to do if there’s a fire in your property
When a fire starts, the most important thing is to act quickly and keep everyone safe. What you should do is use a fire extinguisher or blankets to fight the fire if it is safe to do so or dial 999 to contact the fire department.
As well as the above, make certain that no one is in danger before allowing anyone to re-enter the property and take photos of the damage, but only if it is safe to do so.
You should make sure the photos are time-stamped in a property document so you can notify your insurance provider of the incident and begin the claims process. They will advise you on your next steps.
All in all, it is clear that the topic of fire safety is one you should approach with caution because a lot can clearly go wrong in the process.
While a lot of the regulations may seem hard to understand and may seem to repeat themself, it is important you follow them as a landlord as it could mean keeping tenants safe in the event of a fire.
Can provide useful additional space to your home
Additional space is useful not only for the financial benefit but also simply because you can use the space for whatever you please and the annexe will probably be fit to house a person.
Many people have outhouses and sheds that they spend time in but an annexe means you won’t ever have to leave to access any amenities like the bathroom or kitchen as this is all built into the design of an annexe.
When looking at annexes overall, first of all, what is notable about buying one is the additional decision making you have to do in order to make sure the property purchase is worth the time and money.
There are a good few factors that go into finding the right property for you and there is also the added complexity of finding a mortgage for an annexe on top of this.
So, make sure you collect as much information as you can before you go about applying for any type of mortgage and beware of the risks of buying an annexe.
It should be clear that the advantages of buying an annexe outweigh these risks at all times.