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 before a tenant moves in to a property, especially a carbon monoxide alarm. A carbon monoxide alarm is only required in a room used as limited accommodation that uses solid fuel. The landlord has to 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 required in the smoke alarms. It is for the tenant to replace these and to ensure that they do 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

Where should the alarms be fitted and situated?

 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 to follow the individual manufacturer’s instructions when installing the alarm. In general it is best to fit smoke alarms to the ceiling in a circulation space i.e. a hallway or landing. Carbon monoxide detectors should be fitted at head height on either a wall or shelf. They should also be between one to three metres from the potential source of the carbon monoxide.

Gas and electric safety certificates.

There has been a large increase for landlords to the health and safety rules and regulations that you now need to follow. There are new rules from flats all the way through to houses and it is essential that your properties have electrics and gas safety certificates.

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. Checks need to be carried out every 5 years and need to include EICR which must be now given to the tenants.

You need to also ensure that any changes are made. If you don’t 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?

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. The rules include ensuring tenants can easily escape in the case of fire and making repairs to the fabric of the property in a timely manner so fire can’t spread to the other rooms.

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

These rules are very relevant if you let furnished properties to your tenants. 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.

These were rules that were set out requirements for landlords to ensure that there are warning systems within the property 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 and revisions have recently come through in early 2020. It basically means that the landlords need to ensure that the property is safe, healthy and free from faults that could cause serious harm.  They can include such things as fire safety and if it makes it unsafe to live in. There are no added responsibilities as such but there are time limits in carrying out repairs within a reasonable time especially when it comes to damp. There are requirements for landlords to carry out repairs within a timely manner and if not, then compensation can be applied for through the courts.

Building Regulations

If you refurbish your property it is important before letting it out that you make sure that you follow all the latest rules and regulations through building regulation control. Even if you are employing somebody to do the work it is your responsibility to ensure that they do meet the letting standards not simply those as a homeowner.

There are different rules of the property if you have for instance a House In Multiple Occupation (HMO) you would need to also follow any additional safety rules and regulations within your area. For instance, in Brighton there are two types of licensing that you would have to look at and these can be changed on many occasions. 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 so many different regulations now it is always important that you keep up to date with these and what they may include.

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 and hobs and combustible objects not stored near boilers or fuse boxes.
  • Only allow a “spark” type device to be used when lighting a gas cooker, as a 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 of these rules can be interpreted differently by different local authorises and you can always talk to your local housing officer to find out if they have any requirements.

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.

It is also important to check when you make periodic inspections that your tenant hasn’t taken the labels off these or replaced them without you knowing. You need to ensure 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. So, if a fire were to break out because of something a tenant had added that wasn’t safe from a fire perspective you can prove it wasn’t your fault. Please don’t hesitate to speak to us about having an inventory carried out for your property.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

In order to ensure that your property meets fire safety standards you need to be able to properly assess the potential fire risk. You can do this by educating yourself to the extent of what can be considered as known as a “competent”, to make such an assessment. Or alternatively you can have a competent person such as a professional enquired fire risk assessor to carry out a assessment on your property. Please attached here the government guidelines on this.

The fire safety order is essential but not always easy to do. It involves making sure communal areas such as landings, stairs and kitchens 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, and 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.

These all slightly differ throughout the United Kingdom and therefore it is important that you contact your local authority or housing officer to understand what they require from you.

For instance, in England smoke alarms are required in rental properties, need to be fitted at least on every storey of a 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. If there is a problem the battery can be replaced by the tenant but the alarm itself by the landlord.

The carbon monoxide alarms currently used in England state that they must be installed “where the house is used wholly or partly as living accommodation contains of sorrow for your burning combustion appliance”.

However, it can be good practise to install carbon monoxide alarm into your property in any event next to any electrical or gas heating as it only costs a few pounds. If your tenant was to suffer from carbon monoxide poising and it didn’t have one it could cost you a lot more.

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 but it something again you should contact your local authority about as everyone is different.

Fire safety in Houses in Multiple Occupation.

Housing in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) normally require a license which have enhanced safety rules over and above the ones we have already highlighted. 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 the required equipment, such as fire extinguishers (one on each floor), blankets (especially in the kitchen) and fire alarms are installed in the property in a good working order and condition.
  • Clearly marking fire exists and making sure instructions on what to do in case of a fire are clear and available to tenants, ideally displayed on the wall 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 where required.

Summary

When it comes to fire regulations and safety requirements it is critical for landlords to understand their responsibilities. The main thing for you to think about as a landlord is that you do everything you can to protect your asset as well as your tenants not just the legal minimum. You should be confident that if a fire does occur your tenants will be alerted in time for them to be able to escape and if there is a chance of carbon monoxide poising going off then this can be a very silent killer.

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

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