As a landlord, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are following the correct safety regulations, otherwise you risk receiving hefty fines and committing a criminal offence. Here is a quick guide all about following the safety regulations for your furniture and other furnishings to be used by your tenants.
Fire resistance is one of the main, and most important safety regulations to meet. All upholstered furniture must fulfil The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1989, 1993 and 2010) which set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery.
The penalty for an offence is a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months’ imprisonment. It is also an offence to give or sell any furniture that does not comply.
How to make sure your furniture is fire-resistant
All furniture which meets current fire resistance regulations will have a manufacturers label attached.
The main tests which the manufacturer must pass are the “cigarette test” and the “match test”. These tests are carried out by experts to make sure that covers and furniture doesn’t set ablaze if someone were to drop a lit match or a burning cigarette on them.
Your responsibility is to ensure that you have a test certificate (a label on the furniture) to show that it has passed these fire resistance assessments. The specific places where these tests are carried out are the non-visible parts of the furniture to ensure that the entirety of each piece of furniture is completely safe and fire-resistant. The non-visible areas are places include the cover underneath any seat cushions, the under-side and similar areas.
All furniture in rented accommodation must have a permanent label on it with the heading “CARELESSNESS CAUSES FIRE”, which both applies for brand new or used furniture. This label must be easily visible and non-removable.
Furniture that must comply with the regulations:
- Armchairs and sofas
- Beds, headboards, mattresses and bed filling material, divans and bed bases
- Sofa beds, futons and other convertible furniture
- Inner linings, removable covers, and replacement covers
- Nursery and children’s furniture
- Loose, stretch and fitted covers for furniture
- Scatter cushions and seat pads
- Garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling
- Second-hand furniture
The regulations do not apply to:
- Bed clothes including duvets
- Loose covers for mattresses
- Carpets or curtains
- Furniture manufactured before 1st January 1950
It is extremely important that the living area provides a safe environment in which to live, and that the appropriate fire protection checks are carried out before the tenants move in. Below is a quick checklist of fire prevention procedures to carry out:
- Fit at least one smoke alarm, ideally in every room, but otherwise at the bottom and top of the stairs and landing.
- Ensure a clear, safe escape route is clearly visible and signed
- Install a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in the kitchen for the occupants to manage any small fires
- Any larger fires should be left for the fire brigade to take care of
- Give your residents clear instructions on how to use the equipment and ask them to give you regular updates with any problems
- The fire blanket should be kept in a quick release container so that any fire can be dealt with quickly
Glass in furniture
Glass fitted within tables and glass cupboards can raise alarms for safety concerns as they more fragile that other materials and could cause a hazard if broken, leading to a serious injury. However, glass fragmentation testing on safety/tempered, annealed (normal glass) or curved safety glass will help to ensure that in the situation that it does break.
Glass in Doors and Windows
In addition, all doors in the property must be fitted with safety glass. Safety glass should be fitted in all doors and other windows or glazed areas that are lower than 800mm from the floor level. Glass panels less than 250mm wide can be fitted with 6mm glass or laminated glass instead of toughened glass.
The fire and glass safety regulations also apply to a variety of other furniture and furnishings including:
- Garden furnishings such as cane furniture or outdoor chair seat pads
- Furniture in temporary homes such as caravans
- Bean bags
- Floor cushions
On beds and mattresses look for the label stating compliance with BS7177:1989. If furniture is not labelled then you have no easy way of telling whether or not it complies and it should not be supplied.
It is recommended that all new residents be given clear instructions on how to use the firefighting equipment provided, and be given regular updates. You should advise your tenants that they should not interfere with the fire precautions provided, for example, by removing batteries from a smoke alarm.
The Bed Hire Company, a family business previously known as The Hotel Bed & Cot Hire Company Limited, have been providing beds for hire and cot hire to major hotels for the past 15 years.
We supply most of the large chain hotel groups such as the Sheraton, Hilton, Marriott and Moat House. Other clients include Claridges, Home House, The Lanesborough, Atheneum, The Savoy, the MOD, Wimbledon, summer football schools, and construction and training companies.