As a landlord, you have certain legal obligations when it comes to fire safety, the protection of your property and the safety of people who are connected to your premises (for example residents, staff members, visitors). If you fail to take fire safety precautions, you could be criminally prosecuted under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005. Unsure how to protect your property and tenants? Read on to learn the basics of fire safety for landlords.
Fire safety equipment
In terms of fire safety equipment, landlords are now required to have a minimum of one fire alarm fitted on each storey of their property and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room containing a fuel burning appliance (for example a wood-burning stove or a gas boiler). It's also your responsibility to check these alarms are working at the beginning of each new tenancy. It's advisable that you provide a fireproof blanket in any kitchen areas of your property as well as a fire extinguisher on every storey. Some landlords are required by law to install fire doors throughout their rental properties, while for other landlords this is simply a wise precaution (click here
for more information on your specific responsibilities). Fire doors compartmentalise a fire and prevent it from travelling from room to room, helping to protect your tenants, your property and its contents. Any doors leading to fire escape routes should be FD30 certified.
It's best to ensure you record, repair and maintain any fire safety equipment within your premises. Bear in mind, gas appliances must be checked by a registered Gas Safe engineer every year, electrical appliances must carry the British Safety Standard sign and any furnishings you provide in your property should be fire resistant and meet safety regulations. You must have a registered engineer conduct an annual gas safety check on each appliance, and you should then produce relevant safety certificates to your tenants before they move in, or within 28 days of the check.
Fire safety assessments
Legally, you are required to carry out fire safety risk assessments in all areas of your property to identify any possible fire hazards, pinpoint who is at risk and decide if anything needs to be done to remove or reduce that risk. The overall aim of these assessments is to reduce the likelihood of fire, limit the spread of fire and ensure that people living in, working in or visiting your property know about a fire and can escape. For simple premises, you may wish to complete your own fire risk assessments (there are many free downloadable templates available online), but otherwise it might be best to hire a fire safety professional. It is good practice to review these fire safety assessments annually.
Keeping people safe and informed
The 2004 Housing Act states that landlords have to ensure there are adequate escape routes in their properties, so be sure to plan such escape routes and instruct relevant people about what to do in case of a fire. Make sure everyone living in/working in/visiting your property is aware of the escape routes. All passages and corridors that are to be used as escape routes should be kept clear and uncluttered at all times. Be sure to put up signs detailing what actions should be taken in the event of a fire, making sure that all residents are able to understand any instruction provided (for example, if some of your tenants aren't able to understand English, ensure you have put up signs that are in a language they understand alongside any English signs). Check that your residents and visitors know how to react to fires and where their nearest fire assembly point is located.
If you're renting out a large building to multiple tenants, consider placing fire action signs on the inside of individual households' front doors, as well as corridors (on every level), entrance doors and common areas. You may also wish to write to each of your residents to inform them formally of the fire safety measures that are in place and ask them to take note of the fire signs around your premises.
Disclaimer: This overview on fire safety was done to our best knowledge and only reflects a small part of the relevant fire safety guidance. This summary is intended to give the reader a rough overview over this complex area of legislation and recommendations, and cannot be a replacement for reading the original legislation. For a detailed assessment of individual buildings, you are advised to ask a fire risk assessor to visit the premises in question and provide a written assessment. By ensuring that you fulfil legal requirements and exceed expectations, you can protect your property from damage, avoid prosecution and, most importantly, save lives.