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.
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.
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.
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.
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