Candles lit dinners on Valentine’s Day are a risk to property and could spell disaster, warns the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC). Candle fires result in over 350 casualties each year in England and over 40 per cent of all fires started by candles result in a death or injury and people living in rented or shared accommodation are seven times more likely to have a fire.
Pat Barber, Chair of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) comments: “We had a recent incident where a romantic candle lit dinner ended in large fire that destroyed much of the property. A couple renting a two bed property enjoyed a candle lit dinner, before leaving the property to visit friends. However, they failed to blow out the candles and during their absence, some curtains caught fire and caused £2,000 damage to the property. The couple had to be re-homed. A smoke alarm had been fitted by their landlord but no-one had checked the battery during the tenancy to ensure that it was in good working order.
“We urge all landlords and agents to check that every smoke alarm is in working order and there are an adequate number of smoke alarms are installed. Particular attention should be paid to blocks of flats, where it is essential that smoke alarms are fitted in each flat and not just in the common areas.
“Tenants should be warned to keep candles away from flammable materials like curtains and that they should be extinguished when leaving the room. Tenants should also be advised to replace batteries on alarms when indicated and not to remove batteries from a working alarm.
“Not having a working smoke alarm doubles the risk of death and with over 27,000 fires a year across the UK, there needs to be a change in legislation. Currently, the only specific fire regulations relating to tenanted residential properties relate to furniture and furnishings. All upholstered furnishings provided in a rented property must be fire resistant. Fire resistant furniture carries a symbol that confirms that it is fire resistant.”
The Smoke Detection Act 1991 made it mandatory to fit electric mains-powered smoke alarms in new residential buildings. If alarms are fitted the alarms should conform to the latest BS standards and be fitted in the circulation spaces, i.e. stairways and corridors. The alarms should be in full working order prior to any tenancy, have new batteries and be tested.
AIIC has put together a checklist for landlords and agents:
- Fit battery (or mains) operated smoke alarms in your properties. Show your tenants how to test them, and change the batteries between tenancies
- At the start of the tenancy check that the battery works and demonstrate to the tenant that the alarm works
- Check whether your tenancy agreement requires the tenant to ensure the smoke alarm is in a working condition
- At your regular property inspections check the smoke alarms work. If they are not working, produce a new battery at the inspection to fit to the smoke alarm and ask the tenant to pay for the battery there and then
- Check that any working chimneys have been swept
- Make sure the insurance for both the building and the contents is up to date and appropriate for a tenanted property. This includes notifying your mortgage lender
Check the inspection requirements under your policy if the property is untenanted
For further information on AIIC, please visit www.theaiic.co.uk
· The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks was established in 1996
· The aim of the AIIC is to ensure that every landlord, tenant and agent in the UK is aware of the importance of the inventory process and the benefits of employing an independent, professional independent inventory clerk.
· AIIC independent inventory clerks provide letting agents and landlords with comprehensive inventory documentation, including inventory compilation, check-in procedure, check-out procedure, Tenancy Deposit Schemes and assessment in fair wear and tear.
· The AIIC offers membership to current independent inventory clerks and a search facility for agents and landlords to search for local professional independent inventory clerks.
· The AIIC also offers industry-leading training courses, open to anyone in the property letting industry, ensuring that proper information and training is available for all members to provide the best possible service.
· The AIIC members have all agreed to conduct their business in a professional manner in accordance with the Guidelines to Professional Practice and will abide by the AIIC’s Code of Practice. AIIC members also have Professional Indemnity insurance and Public Liability insurance.
· AIIC independent inventory clerks are experts in their field, helping to save landlords, letting agents and tenant’s time, money and hassle by ensuring that government regulations are being adhered to.