The lowdown: fire safety laws

The Grenfell Tower disaster brought home just how devastating fire in a residential property can be. If you’re a landlord in the private rented sector, you’re responsible for protecting your tenants from the risk of fire. It’s a daunting enough prospect, without the many regulations and pieces of legislation you’ll need to get to grips with.

To help you, we’ve put together this quick guide explaining a landlord’s main duties when it comes to fire safety, and giving sources of more information.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

  • Landlords are required by law to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every floor of their property.
  • You must also install a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (eg a coal fire or wood burning stove).
  • You must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
  • London Fire Brigade also recommends heat detectors in the kitchen, and a smoke alarm in the lounge and hallway of individual flats and houses to give early warning to residents.
  • Find out more in this publication on the gov.uk website.

Fire risk assessments

  • Landlords are required to carry out regular fire risk assessments to identify any potential fire hazards which may endanger their tenants.
  • The assessments examine your property from a fire prevention perspective to understand all the potential risks and improve your fire safety precautions to keep people safe.
  • Your assessment is best carried out by a qualified fire risk assessor.
  • Read more about fire risk assessments on the London Fire Brigade website.

Fire safety regulations – rented property

The Housing Act 2004 and the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) outline landlords’ main responsibilities regarding fire safety. These include:

  • Keeping escape routes clear and making sure that your tenants understand their need to do so too – so no bikes, pushchairs etc blocking exits.
  • Carrying out an annual portable appliance test (PAT) on any small electrical appliances, which you have supplied.
  • Being careful to avoid fire hazards – electrical leads or tea towels near hobs, for example –and educating your tenants about these risks.
  • If your property is in a block of flats, it’s important that tenants avoid storing belongings in communal areas – they can be accidentally set alight and block halls and stairways, preventing escape and restricting access by firefighters.

Furniture and furnishings

All upholstered furniture and furnishings provided by the landlord must meet fire safety standards. This means that any sofas, cushions, chairs or mattresses must carry the fire-resistant symbol. These rules are outlined in the Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1989, 1993 and 2010).

Fire regulations for HMOs

If you rent out a house of multiple occupation (HMO) you must provide a fire extinguisher on every floor of the property and a fire blanket in every shared kitchen. Make sure that the fire extinguisher is in good working order and checked regularly.

In addition, to protect the tenants in your Islington HMO you should:

  • Install fire alarms and smoke detectors throughout the property
  • Keep all exits clear from obstructions
  • Clearly mark all fire exits and make sure instructions on what to do in case of a fire are displayed on the walls in a communal area
  • Have annual gas safety checks and regular electric checks – at least once every five years.

Fire safety checklist

As a landlord, it’s important that you do everything in your power to protect your tenants from harm and ensure that all fire safety requirements are met.

Make sure you:

  • Install a smoke alarm on every storey of the property
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in every room which has a solid fuel burning appliance
  • Make sure all furniture is fire resistant – does it have the fire-resistant symbol?
  • Make sure escape routes are available and never obstructed
  • Provide fire extinguishers and fire blankets if the property is an HMO

Can we help?

If you are a new landlord looking to rent out a property in Highbury, Islington, Newington Green, and Stoke Newington, we’d be happy to help you. Please do get in touch today.