Fire safety for landlords


Fire safety for landlords is an important legal requirement

Private landlords are enjoying a boom time at the moment. Britain’s housing crisis has led many of us to meet demand by investing in rental properties – particularly attractive as an alternative income or pension while mortgage rates are low.

But like any business there are legal responsibilities. Fire safety has to be a priority.

Whether or not you’re new to renting you’ll need to stay abreast of changes in the law concerning fire safety for landlords. The rise in the number of landlords has inevitably focused the minds of government and new rules taking effect in October 2015 require you to install smoke and CO2 alarms in most properties. You may be exempt if you’re renting a second home to a single family but the devil is in the detail and it’s worth checking your specific circumstances. More details can be found here

and here

What’s clear is that landlords running the following types of accommodation must install fire detection to meet requirements for fire safety for landlords.

* Purpose-built blocks of flats
* Converted flats
* Bedsits
* Shared houses
* B & Bs
* Guest houses
* Holiday lets

So which alarm to choose?  The best way to decide is through your mandatory landlord’s fire risk assessment. Done properly, this should provide a clear and logical insight into what you need – but make sure it is reviewed regularly.  After all, if you’re a professional landlord it makes sense to act professionally.

Unless you’re renting out the simplest of single-storey flats it’s worth seeking expert advice for your all-important fire risk assessment. Consultants like Surrey Fire & Safety can help spot hazards, identify who’s at risk and suggest cost-effective alarms.

You’ll need to make sure furnishings conform to UK fire safety standards, that adequate escape routes are available and that a ‘responsible person’ is nominated to ensure effective fire protection is in place.

Every house or flat is different but generally you should consider:

* Fitting smoke alarms & fire alarms at suitable locations
* Ensuring outside doors can always be easily opened from the inside
* Draw up a clear smoking policy
* Carry out regular electrical safety checks and record what’s been done
* Keep corridors and hallways clear
* Fit  ’30-minute fire doorsto protect the escape route (as the name suggests, they will confine a blaze for 30 minutes)
* Fit  emergency lighting where necessary
* Fit  fire extinguishers where necessary

The point of all this is not to satisfy some nit-picking anti-landlord bureaucracy. On the contrary, fire protection saves lives and – as a bonus – helps keep you in business.  The very few landlords who ignore it face:

* Up to six months in prison
* A fine of up to £5,000 per item of furniture that fails safety standards
* A manslaughter charge in the event of a tenant‘s death
* Being sued for civil damages by a tenant
* Finding their insurance is invalid

Whether you’re landlord of a tiny bedsit, or a burgeoning property empire, neglecting fire safety measures just isn’t worth the risk.