Fire Alarms – Do I need one in my rental property?

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  • Fire Alarms – Do I need one in my rental property?

Do landlords have to provide smoke alarms?

It is a requirement of the law for landlords to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties. This came into effect in October 2015 and is there to ensure the safety of tenants. It is therefore extremely important that landlords are aware of the requirements and responsibilities.

Do I need to ensure that they are working before a tenant moves in?

Yes, landlords are responsible to test the smoke and fire alarms. They must be tested before a tenant moves in. Carbon monoxide alarm also must be tested. The landlord must check these at the start of every new tenancy to ensure that they work.

Does the tenant have any responsibility for the fitted smoke alarms?

Yes, from the first day of the tenancy. The tenant is responsible to change the batteries there after. It is for the tenant to replace these during the term of the tenancy. They must also not tamper or hinder these at any point.

Are carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms both necessary?

The regulations state to install smoke alarms on every storey. Also, that a carbon monoxide detector be installed in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance. Carbon Monoxide detectors are not a replacement for smoke alarms, they are an addition.

Also, gas appliances can emit carbon monoxide. So, we would expect and encourage reputable landlords to fit carbon monoxide alarms in rooms that have gas powered appliances. For example, a kitchen or utility room.

The government have written a Q&A booklet in regards to smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations 2015 – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords/the-smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarm-england-regulations-2015-qa-booklet-for-the-private-rented-sector-landlords-and-tenants

Do you know where to fit the alarms?

 Unfortunately, the regulations do not stipulate the ideal alarm placement. Just that at least one smoke alarm should be on every storey. Also, that a carbon monoxide detector should be in every room containing a solid burning fuel appliance. We would suggest following the individual manufacturer’s instructions when installing the alarm. It is best to fit smoke alarms to the ceiling. These should be in hallways or landings. Fitting these at head height on a wall/shelf is advised. They should also be between one to three metres from the potential source of the carbon monoxide.

Gas and electric safety certificates.

There are huge amount of health and safety regulations landlords now have to comply with. There are consistent new rules. These will change even further with more legislation coming through. It is important that you are aware of these. They include electrical reports and gas safeties.

Landlords need to have the electrics checked by an electrician from the 1st June for all the new tenancies. Where there are existing tenancies these need to be done by the 1st April 2021. EICR’s must now be carried out every 5 years.

You need to also ensure that any changes are made. If you do not keep up with the regulations, you could end up having £10,000’s worth of fines. You could even have your tenant get injured and your insurance company may not pay out.

If you wanted an insurance quote don’t hesitate to contact our sister company iInsure365.

What are the fire safety regulations for rented properties in England?

Please note fire regulations for rental properties are laid out of various acts and get updated on regular basis.

The key laws are as follows;

The Housing Act 2004, including the Housing Health Safety Rating System known as (HHSRS).

This lays down the main requirements on fire safety in a rented home. It includes ensuring tenants can easily escape in case of fire. You must almost do repairs to the property in a timely manner. These relate to fire requirements.

Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1998 – 1999, 1993 and 2010.

When letting a furnished property these rules are very relevant. Regulations apply to things such as sofas, sofa beds, mattress’ and even beanbags.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order 2005)

These regulations cover fire safety in shared communal areas especially in a block of flats. This is the case even if you own a whole block of flats.

The Smoke Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.

Landlords must ensure that there are warning signs within the property. This is to alert the tenant in case of a fire. They vary from different parts of the United Kingdom, so it is important that you check.

Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.

This was a brand-new law that came into existence in March 2019. It has now been law since 2020. It means landlords need to ensure that the property is safe, healthy, and free from faults. There must be no reason to cause serious harm to a tenant. They can include such things as fire safety and if it makes it unsafe to live in. There are time limits on carrying out repairs. Carrying these out within a reasonable time is essential. This includes damp. Landlords must carry out repairs within a timely manner. If not, compensation can be applied by the courts.

Building Regulations

If you refurbish your property it must in accordance with building regulations. These change on a yearly basis, so it is important for you to check. When employing somebody to do the work, you will need to check the regulations are adhered to. There are various lettings standards under building regulations consent.

When a HMO is involved there are additional safety rules. These may change from area to area. For instance, in Brighton there is additional licencing. Planning consents may also be required. You should also check with your local authorities. These can change on a regular basis. They may include providing fire extinguishers and fire blankets. Every local authority is different.

What are the fire safety regulations for landlords in England?

There are many regulations, and you should always contact health and safety to check or your letting agent.

The Housing Act 2004, including Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

The key requirements and regulations for rented property are laid out by HHSRS. You will need to know as a landlord that your tenants are protected by accidents such as electric shocks, fire, burns and scolds.

Your responsibilities are as follows.

  • To ensure that fire escape routes are clear and checking your tenants understand that they need to do the same.
  • Making sure that there are no fire hazards near areas where fires may start. For example, ensuring electrical leads and tea towels are not kept near oven. Combustible objects should not be stored near boilers or fuse boxes.
  • Only allow a “spark” type device to be used when lighting a gas cooker, as opposed to matches.
  • You need to ensure that appliances are safe for instance having a PAT test (Portable Appliance Test).
  • Ensure that electrical appliances have a British or European safety mark.

Some local authorities have difference rules. You can also talk to your local housing officer to find out what they are.

Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1998/1999, 1993 and 2010.

The fire regulations require you to check that there are appropriate display labels that manufactures are legally required to supply. The only items that may not have them are mattresses, bed bases, pillows, cushions and covers. You need to check the labels before you buy furniture and furnishings.

Periodic inspections should take place with your tenant. You should ensure that these labels have not been taken off by the tenant. Ensuring any changes on the inventory are taken place with photos as well.

An inventory is so important as it provides an independent record of what you put in the property. If a fire were to break out through a tenant’s responsibility you would have evidence of this. This is an important document to cover yourself. If you require information, please do not hesitate to speak to us about having an inventory.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

You should assess the fire risk assessment of your property. You can do this if you feel you are competent. If you do not feel you are competent you need to employ a professional. A fire risk assessment is critical for all let properties over a period. Please attached here the government guidelines on this.

The fire safety order is essential but not always easy to do. In communal areas such as landings, stairs and kitchens ensure they are kept clear of combustible items. This is to ensure that people can escape quickly and reduce the risk of anything cluttering the fire escape route.

It can be hard to enforce regardless of how diligent you are. Tenants always don’t understand or follow the rules. It is important that you explain the fire safety to them and put something in writing.

You also need to be aware that claiming “I didn’t know” to an enforcement officer in court isn’t a defence.

The best way to abide by these regulations is for rental properties to carry out a periodic risk assessment. There is no time frame on these, but it is something you should look on the government website such as here to give you an indication.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.

Contact your local authority. There will be a housing officer that will tell you what the local requirements are.

In England smoke alarms are required in rental properties. These need to be fitted at least on every storey of living accommodation. They need to be tested on the first day of the tenancy and this needs to be recorded. The tenants are responsible of testing the alarms to ensure they are in a working order. Regarding, problems with the battery this can be replaced by the tenant. However, if it’s the alarm itself by the landlord.

In England carbon monoxide alarms are required in rental properties where there is a solid fuel burning appliance. This is where houses wholly or partly are used as living accommodation.

It is good practice to install Carbon Monoxide alarms in your property. It only costs a few pounds, and it is irrelevant whether there is gas central heating or not. If the tenant were to suffer from Carbon Monoxide poisoning, you would be liable.

Do you need fire doors on a rented property?

The rules change on a regular basis and especially after Grenfell requirements may come into force. At this moment in time housing in multiple occupation only require fire doors. However, these consistently change so contact your local authority.

Fire safety in Houses in Multiple Occupation.

Housing in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) normally require a license. They have enhanced safety rules. The HMO’s you may own have a normal legal requirement to ensure that they protect your property and the tenant.

These are all different from various local authorities but normally include as follows.

  • Keeping all exits clear from obstructions.
  • Making sure fire extinguishers are on each floor.
  • Blankets are in the kitchen.
  • Fire alarms are installed in the property are in working order.
  • Making fire exists clearly marked.
  • Making sure instructions and what to do in case of fire are clear and available to tenants.
  • Ideally displaying fire regulations on walls in a communal area.
  • Making sure you have an annual gas safety check.
  • Maintaining and checking the electrics and any appliances and having electrical check every 5 years.
  • Ensuring any furniture and furnishings meet the fire risk regulations.
  • Certified doors are fitted if needed.

Summary

When it comes to fire regulations and safety requirements it is critical for landlords to understand their responsibilities. A landlord should consider everything to protect your assets. You need to ensure that you do the bare minimum at least for tenants. Being confident if a fire occurs yours tenants will be alerted. That they will have enough time to escape. If there is a chance of Carbon Monoxide poising, then there should be alarms. This can be a silent killer.

Contact us on 01273 749169 if there any requirements you may have.

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