Please Note: This Article is 3 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

Being a landlord is a lot more than just collecting the rent every month, as I’m sure you already know. There are many responsibilities which go hand-in-hand.

There are lots of rules and regulations which are in place to protect your investment, but more importantly, they also help to keep your tenants as safe as possible.

A responsible landlord who fulfils all their obligations can sleep easy at night, knowing they have everything covered.

People living in rented accommodation are seven times more likely to have a fire than those living in homes they own.

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Thankfully, in England and Wales, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is in place to keep everyone safe. And likewise, Scotland enforces the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and in Northern Ireland The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010.

In all honesty, they’re a bit complicated. It can be really hard trying to get your head around things and staying on top of everything. So to help you out, Fire Protection Online has put together some tips to make it a little easier.

Detecting A Threat

Everyone is aware of how vital smoke alarms are in keeping people safe. After all, you’re four times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm.

So despite them sometimes being an annoyance when you burn the bacon, or when they tell you the battery needs replacing, they really are worth it.

They provide an early warning of a potential threat. This can be what prevents a small fire from escalating, and allows everyone to make a swift and safe exit.

And as a bare minimum, you must fit at least one smoke alarm on every floor of any rented home. But for a better level of protection, install smoke alarms in the rooms which people spend most of their time, such as living rooms and bedrooms.

It is also the law to install carbon monoxide alarms in rooms containing a solid fuel appliance, like a fireplace.

For better protection, it’s advisable also to install CO alarms in rooms containing a gas appliance, like a boiler or cooker, and additionally in areas where residents sleep.

Even if the home has no gas or solid fuel appliances, they’re always beneficial. It’s not unknown for carbon monoxide to seep in from neighbouring homes which have CO leaks.

A good rule of thumb is to give tenants the same level of fire protection you would expect in your own home.

There are many different solutions which exist for landlords. For example, alarms with long-life batteries are harder to tamper with and have up to a 10-year guarantee, and wireless alarms mean there is no excuse for an occupant not to hear a smoke alarm.

Fire-Fighting Equipment

Each floor of an HMO must have a fire extinguisher in the communal areas. Other than that, it is not generally a requirement in rented accommodation.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t provide any, however.

Providing tenants with fire blankets fixed to the wall gives them the resources to be able to prevent a small kitchen fire taking hold. And after all, that also reduces the damage caused to your property.

A powder fire extinguisher is also a good multipurpose extinguisher which is suitable for many types of fire. To enable tenants to stay safe, it may also be beneficial to provide them with basic training in its operation when they move it.

But it is vital to remember that with any fire extinguisher you provide, it needs annual servicing, carried out by a trained technician.

Fire Precautions

In an HMO property, you must have a fire risk assessment completed and in writing. They are also a good idea in a standard rental property.

If you feel competent enough, you can do this yourself. There are plenty of guides online to help you through the process.

Alternatively, it is sometimes better to get an outsider’s unbiased perspective. So you may also want to look into having a professional fire risk assessment completed.

Its purpose is to identify fire hazards and reduce those risks as much as practically possible. Plus it will also consider the needs of people who may find themselves caught up in a fire in the property.

For example, it is likely that you will need to install self-closing fire doors with intumescent seals. These will prevent a fire from spreading and allow for the evacuation route to remain clear.

You may also need to provide an alternative exit route, particularly in HMOs which are not on the ground floor.

You are also required to ensure gas and electrical appliances you supply are properly installed, maintained and annually serviced. These need to be carried out by qualified professionals.

By looking after gas appliances, you are reducing the likelihood of CO poisoning. And with PAT testing you’re making sure electrical equipment is not going to cause harm.

It is also worth checking that the fuse boxes have RCD protection. These prevent electrical shocks and reduce the risk of electrical fires.

And Finally

Any furnishings you provide (except carpets and curtains) need to be made of fire-resistant materials.

These furnishings come with a label which confirms this. The Furniture and Furnishings Act 1998 states that you must not remove the label.

Plus, you may want to consider providing tenants with basic fire prevention advice so they can help themselves.

As the property owner, you are the person responsible for ensuring everything is as it should be. Even if you delegate these duties to your letting agent, it is still the landlord who is ultimately responsible.

The courts take failure to comply with the fire safety regulations very seriously. In fact, in 2012 Chester Crown Court fined a landlord £45,000 for eleven fire safety offences. These included broken smoke alarms and combustible materials in corridors.

So it benefits everyone to ensure your rental properties are complying fully with the regulations. Having a safe place to live is one of the most important things in life, so ensure your tenants have such a place which they can call home.

For more information about fire safety in rented accommodation, or in general, the Fire Protection Online website is packed full of info.

Article Courtesy of: www.fireprotectiononline.co.uk

Please Note: This Article is 3 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

3 COMMENTS

  1. > It is also worth checking that the fuse boxes have RCD protection. These prevent electrical shocks and reduce the risk of electrical fires.
    Oh well, there goes the credibility of the article. RCDs do **NOT** prevent electric shocks They also do nothing for several significant causes (probably the majority) of electrical fire. Anyone claiming such is a clueless idiot.
    What they DO do is to **reduce** the risks from a subset of fault types. They do not eliminate the risk from these faults, they **reduce** the risks. And for the faults not in this category, they do absolutely nothing.
    Sorry to be so abrupt on this, but someone writing about safety measures really really should know what they are talking about.

  2. I am not sure I would necessarily agree with your comment there. Below is an extract from the BEAMA RCD handbook:

    DTI statistics show that fire brigades attend over 10,000 fires every year
    attributed to faults in electrical appliances, lighting, wiring and accessories.
    Of these, 5,000 are in the home and result in about 23 deaths annually and 600
    casualties requiring medical treatment.
    Household electricity supplies are fitted with fuses or circuit-breakers to
    protect against the effects of \’overcurrents\’ (\’overloads\’ in circuits which are
    electrically sound and \’short-circuit faults\’ due to contact between live
    conductors in a fault situation.) RCDs provide additional protection against the
    effects of earth leakage faults which could present a fire risk.
    4.2 Protective Measures as a Function of External Influences
    It is widely accepted that RCDs can reduce the likelihood of fires associated with earth
    faults in electrical systems, equipment and components by limiting the magnitude and
    duration of current flow. (BEAMA RCD HANDBOOK 2014)

    Equally Chapter 42 defines protection against thermal effects namely Regulation 422.3 requires, in
    TN and TT systems, that wiring systems, with the exception of
    mineral insulated cable and busbar trunking systems, are protected
    against insulation faults to earth by an RCD having a rated tripping
    current not exceeding 300mA.
    Research commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry in 1997, established that
    a common source of earth faults is surface tracking on insulation. The report confirms that
    currents as low as 50-100mA have been found to be sufficient to cause ignition and fire as
    a result of tracking and that at these currents, an RCD rated to provide protection against
    electric shock, would also have prevented ignition.

    Yes I would agree that RCD\’s do not totally prevent electric shocks but they do minimise the risk by ensuring that any fault over 30 m Amps (deemed a safe level of current for the majority of the population) is disconnected in an adequate time to prevent injury or death. I would also agree that they do not prevent causes of fire by particular electrical faults.
    I do feel however, that any body in the electrical industry should praise an article that heightens awareness of electrical safety even if the facts contained are a generalised version.

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