Fire safety guide for landlords
As a landlord you have an obligation to protect your tenants and your property in case of fire. It’s your investment - but, more importantly, it’s your tenants lives.
As a landlord you need to make sure that if the worst does happen, your tenants are alerted and can get out in time to raise the alarm from safety. At a minimum, you should always check that your properties have an adequate means of escape in case of fire, and that there are working smoke detectors.
Landlords of large, shared, or HMO properties will have extra obligations under fire safety regulations and The Housing Act 2004.
The basics of fire safety for landlords
- Carry out a fire risk assessment for all of your properties. This should identify all fire-related hazards, and how they should be mitigated. Consider getting in a fire safety professional - particularly if you have an HMO or a large number of properties to assess.
- Minimise hazards - for instance by making sure your fuse box isn’t inside a coat cupboard, and keeping electrical wires for the kettle and toaster, or tea towel rails, well away from the gas hob in the kitchen.
- Install self-closing fire doors between rooms, which will contain a fire and keep corridors clear for escape.
- Decorate those corridors carefully with fire safety in mind - painted plaster is better than wallpaper, and you should avoid coat hooks and shelves.
- Keep corridors, escape routes and exits clear - and check your tenants also understand the need to do so.
- Make sure external doors can always be opened from the inside - without a key.
- Fit smoke detectors on each floor. These can be battery operated or mains powered - but battery models need checking and batteries replacing regularly.
- Install a carbon monoxide alarm in all rooms with a solid fuel burning appliance.
- Check appliances have a British or European safety mark, and have a PAT (portable appliance test) annually.
- Make sure you have annual gas safety checks completed by a qualified engineer. You should carry out electrical installations safety checks, and visually check sockets and switches at each inspection.
- Before you rent your property, consider whether you want to make non-smoking a condition of your tenancy agreement.
- If you’re renting an HMO, you will be required to have extra fire safety equipment, including fire extinguishers on each floor, and a fire blanket in the kitchen. You may wish to install these in every property, but check in with fire safety professionals first.
- Get in touch with your local Housing Officer, or the local Fire Brigade, or find a private fire safety professional to assess your property before tenants move in - and before and after building work.
What are the fire safety regulations for rented properties?
There are various Acts relating to fire safety, but these are the key laws landlords should be aware of.
The Housing Act 2004, including the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
This covers the main requirements of fire safety in a rented property. Rules include ensuring tenants can escape easily in the case of a fire, and conducting repairs quickly to prevent the spread of a blaze.
Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988/1989, 1993 and 2010
Take a look if your property is furnished, as these rules relate to things like sofas, sofa beds and mattresses.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (2005)
These regulations cover fire safety in shared communal areas - like in a block of flats.
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
Requirements for landlords to fit warning systems within a property to alert the tenant in case of fire or carbon monoxide.
Find out more about the legislation and regulations you need to know and follow:
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
Where you can find the Lacors fire safety regulations.
Home Safety Guidance
This site not only covers the latest legislation, but provides home safety check templates for you to use and follow at your properties.
The Fire Safety Advice Centre
The Fire Safety Advice Centre provides free fire safety and fire prevention advice - including handy videos.
You can also take a look at our article on the safety checks required after the Grenfell Tower fire, here, and top tips from Simple Landlords Insurance expert landlord, property developer, and letting agent Carl Agar - of Big Red House