What are the fire safety responsibilities for landlords?

Landlord Advice

13 November 2020

As a landlord, you have a responsibility to provide a safe and secure property for your tenants. It’s not only the mark of a good, trusted landlord – it’s also the law.

This includes your responsibility to keep your properties safe from hazards including fire, by providing smoke alarms, means of escape and fire-resistant furniture.

The rules can vary across the different parts of the UK mainland, so follow AXA’s guide to the fire safety regulations in Scotland, England and Wales to find out the responsibilities for landlords in your area.

 

Scotland

In Scotland, the law states that landlords have a responsibility for providing fire safety equipment in their properties, including:

  • at least one smoke alarm in the room most frequently used, like the living room
  • at least one smoke alarm in hallways or landings
  • at least one heat alarm in every kitchen
  • a carbon monoxide alarm where there is a fuel burner or flue

In addition, the law states that:

  • all alarms should be ceiling mounted
  • alarms must be mains or lithium battery powered
  • all alarms should be interlinked, either through fixed wiring or a wireless system

These rules for landlords were also due to be extended to all homeowners in Scotland in new legislation originally due to come into force in February 2021. However, this was then delayed to 2022 to give homeowners more time to prepare in light of the COVID-19 restrictions.

It’s worth encouraging your tenants to check the smoke alarms regularly and to advise your tenants not to tamper with, change or move the smoke alarms.

Landlords are also required to ensure that their properties are free from any fire hazards, such as loose or faulty wiring and gas leaks. In a furnished property, any upholstered furniture provided for your tenants should also be fire resistant. This includes things like sofas and armchairs, sofa covers, beds and mattresses.

You can read the Scottish Government’s full guidance on Fire detection in private rented properties here

 

England

The rules in England are similar to those in Scotland, but it’s important to note the subtle differences between different parts of the UK.

In England, the law states that the landlord must:

  • provide a smoke alarm on each floor of their property
  • provide a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance (for example a coal fire or wood burning stove)
  • make sure that any furniture supplied is fire safe
  • check you have access to escape routes at all times

Landlords must test the fire alarms at the beginning of the tenancy, and should be tested regularly by either the landlord or the tenant thereafter.

Gas equipment like cookers must be safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer annually, and sockets, light fittings and other electrical equipment provided by the landlord must be safe too.

More information about the fire safety regulations for landlords in England can be found here. For more information about your rights as a landlord to make your properties safe and secure for tenants, take a look at AXA’s guide to the Fitness for Human Habitation Act.

 

Wales

Landlords in Wales have similar fire safety obligations, including:

  • providing one smoke alarm on each floor of the property (if the landlord is licenced under the Rent Smart Wales scheme)
  • checking the alarm works after the tenant moves in
  • fitting a carbon monoxide detector if the home contains a coal or wood fire
  • ensure a clear means of escape

Gas equipment including cookers must be safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer every 12 months, and sockets, light fittings and other electrical equipment provided by the landlord must be safe and display a British Safety Standard sign.

In addition, any upholstered furniture provided such as sofas, armchairs, beds and cushions should be fire resistant and should display a fire resistant symbol.

View the code of practice for landlord in Wales here.

 

As a landlord, wherever you are in the UK, it's vital that you follow the correct fire safety requirements and legislation – whether you manage the property yourself of outsource to a letting agent.

In many cases, failing to keep up to speed with your obligations could put lives at risk, could risk damage to your property, or could invalidate your landlord insurance. So always ask for help and advice from your local authority to make sure you're following the latest rules and regulations.

 

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