Fire Safety Guide for landlords – 15 ways to make a difference

Fire safety for dwellings is now on the forefront of our thoughts, read 13 recommendations on how Fire Safey can be implemented to protect both landlords and tenants

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Each year on average more than 200 in the UK die from dwelling fires and the Fire and Rescue Service attends approximately 150,000 fire related incidents. These numbers can be significantly reduced and many lives can be saved by following guidelines and paying due care. In this article we will look at the responsibilities of landlords and 15 simple methods in which to implement safety measures. 

Importance of fire safety for UK landlords  

Fire safety is a critical issue for landlords in the United Kingdom because it is their responsibility to ensure that their properties are safe for tenants to live in. This extends to both preventing fires and ensuring that the property is equipped with appropriate fire safety measures in the event of a fire. This includes having operational smoke detectors and fire alarms as well as providing clear and accessible routes for tenants to evacuate the property in the event of a fire. Landlords who do not take adequate precautions to ensure fire safety in their properties may face legal ramifications such as fines or even imprisonment. 

 In addition to the legal requirements, landlords should take fire safety seriously because it can help prevent injuries and deaths from fires in their properties. Furthermore, fires can result in significant financial losses such as property damage, loss of rental income and legal costs. Landlords can help protect their tenants, property and financial interests by taking appropriate measures to prevent fires and prevent their spread. 

Landlords have a legal responsibility to ensure that their properties are safe from fire. 

UK landlords have a legal responsibility to ensure that their properties are safe from fire under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This legislation sets out the fire safety requirements for all landlords including the need to carry out a fire risk assessment and maintain fire safety equipment provided within the property.  

If a landlord fails to meet these requirements and a fire starts within their property, they could be held liable for any injuries or damage that may result. Additionally, landlords could face fines, legal action, or other penalties such as imprisonment for failing to comply with these fire safety laws. Therefore it is important for landlords to take their legal responsibilities seriously and take appropriate measures to prevent fires and protect against their spread. 

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005  

This is the main piece of legislation that sets out fire safety requirements for UK landlords . The Fire Safety Order applies to all non-domestic premises, shared areas in HMOs, blocks of flats and maisonettes. Unlike the previous version, this order is not limited to the structure but also to the external parts such as car parks and drives. It is designed to help protect people from the risk of fire by setting out requirements for fire safety management and fire safety equipment. 

Some of the Order’s key requirements for landlords include:  

  • Conducting a fire risk assessment: Landlords must conduct a fire risk assessment of their property to identify potential fire hazards and evaluate the risks associated with those hazards. The assessment must be performed by a qualified person such as a fire safety professional and it must be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. 
  •  Providing and maintaining fire safety equipment: Landlords are required to provide and maintain fire safety equipment such as smoke alarms, fire blankets and fire extinguishers in their properties. The type and quantity of equipment needed will be determined by the size and type of property. Landlords must also ensure that the equipment is in good working order and that proper instructions are provided.  
  • Providing tenants with fire safety information: Landlords are required to provide their tenants with fire safety information, including the location and operation of fire safety equipment, fire escape routes and fire meeting points. Landlords must also make sure that tenants understand what to do in the event of a fire.  
  • Keeping fire safety measures in place: Landlords are responsible for keeping fire safety measures in place such as fire doors and emergency lighting. This includes performing regular inspections and repairing or upgrading as needed.  

Overall, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 establishes extensive fire safety requirements for landlords in the United Kingdom, with the goal of protecting people from the dangers of fire. Landlords must ensure that these requirements are met in order to avoid legal liability and other penalties. 

Informing and educating tenants: 

Landlords have a responsibility to educate their tenants about fire safety. 

Landlords have a responsibility to educate their tenants about fire safety in their property.  This includes providing information about the location and operation of fire safety equipment such as smoke alarms, fire panels, fire extinguishers and fire escape routes. By educating their tenants about fire safety landlords can help ensure that they are prepared and aware of fire safety procedures in  the event of a fire. 

Providing information about the location and operation of fire safety equipment is important as it can help tenants quickly and effectively use the equipment to stop small fires before the situation escalates. This information should include clear instructions on how to operate the equipment, what equipment to use and the location of the equipment in the property. Landlords should also provide information about when and how to test the equipment regularly and how to report any issues or malfunctions. 

As well as providing information about fire safety equipment landlords should also inform tenants about fire escape routes. This should include detailed information about the location of the nearest fire exits and the best route to take to evacuate the premises. Landlords should also provide information about the importance of keeping fire exits clear, unobstructed and  the importance of planning and practising fire drills. 

More tips for landlords  

Undertaking frequent fire drills: Regular fire drills is one of the best ways to teach tenants about fire safety. Tenants may benefit from this by learning where fire safety equipment is located, how it works, and how to use the fire escapes. All renters should participate in fire drills, which should be held on a regular basis, such once a month.  

Giving tenants written information: Landlords should give their tenants written information on fire safety, this can contain specifics on where and how to use fire safety gear as well as instructions on how to evacuate the premises. Landlords should make this information easily accessible to tenants in a style that is clear and short such as a leaflet or flier.  

Providing training: Offering training on the subject is another efficient way to inform tenants about fire safety. This can include details on the kinds of fires that occur most frequently in rental properties as well as the best strategies to put out fires and handle emergencies. This instruction can be given by landlords in a number of ways, such as live seminars or online courses.  

Display notices and reminders: By putting up notices and reminders in the rental property landlords  inform tenants about fire safety procedures. These could include warnings regarding the need of maintaining fire safety equipment and keeping fire exits clear, signs showing the location of fire escapes and fire safety equipment, and more. 

15 Areas where Fire Safety awareness can be increased and Risk Reduced 

Fire Risk Assessments  

The Fire Safety Order, which was introduced in 2006 in the UK, requires landlords to carry out a fire risk assessment of their rental property and take steps to reduce or eliminate any risks identified. Landlords must also keep records of their assessments and any remedial action taken,  failure to comply with the Fire Safety Order can result in criminal prosecution or possible imprisonment. Fire safety measures should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are kept up to date and remain relevant. 

Landlord fire risk assessments are critical for ensuring that rental properties and the occupants remain safe from the dangers of fire. The assessment needs to highlight any risks in order to determine if they can be reduced or eliminated and then take steps to ensure that these measures are put into place to avoid a recurrence of the risks. It is important for landlords to have a full understanding of their obligations and what is required when conducting a landlord fire risk assessment. The assessment needs to consider sources of ignition and fuel, means of escape, personnel safety, access for the emergency services, building structure and contents, lack of safety equipment as well as other potential risks associated with the property. Taking appropriate steps to reduce or eliminate any identified risks can help protect both tenants and landlords. 

Fire Doors  

Fire doors are an integral part of fire safety in the UK. They play an important role in reducing the spread of smoke and flames, as well as protecting escape routes for people to get out of a building safely in the event of a fire. Landlords are particularly responsible for ensuring that their properties comply with fire safety regulations, including installing appropriate fire doors  

Fire doors should be inspected regularly and maintained to ensure they remain in good condition. This includes checking the door seals, hinges and locks as well as ensuring that adequate fire retardant materials are being used. Any repairs or replacements should only be carried out by a qualified professional who is experienced with fire door maintenance. In addition, landlords should ensure that any fire doors are properly identified with the appropriate signage  

Smoke and Fire Alarms 

Landlords must provide and maintain smoke alarms and fire alarms in their properties as part of the Fire Safety Order. Smoke alarms are designed to detect the presence of smoke and alert occupants to the potential danger of a fire, while fire alarms are designed to detect the presence of heat or flames and activate an alarm. Changes to the Smoke and CO Alarm regulations require Landlords to have a smoke alarm fitted to every floor of a property and also to ensure are properly installed, maintained, tested. In addition to these smoke alarms London Fire Brigade strongly recommend an additional heat detector in the kitchen and a smoke alarm in the lounge and hallway of individual flats and houses to give early warning to residents in the event of a fire .       

 Fire extinguishers 

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that landlords must provide and maintain fire extinguishers in their properties. Fire extinguishers are portable devices that are used to extinguish small fires and prevent them from spreading. Landlords are required to ensure that fire extinguishers are properly installed, maintained, and inspected according to the Fire Extinguisher Inspection guidelines. 

Fire Escape Routes 

Landlords must provide clear and unobstructed fire escape routes in their properties. Fire escape routes are the paths that occupants use to evacuate a property in the event of a fire. Landlords are required to ensure that fire escape routes are properly marked and maintained and that tenants are aware of their location and how to use them.  

The Fire Safety Order also requires  landlords  ensure that the communal areas of their properties are safe from hazards that can create fire or block escape routes. Communal areas are defined as areas that are shared by multiple occupants such as corridors, stairwells, landing areas and lobbies. Landlords are required to carry out a fire risk assessment of these areas and implement appropriate measures to prevent fires and protect against their spread. 

Gas Safety Certificate 

Carrying out annual gas safety inspections of appliances within a property (in particular HMOs) not only protects the tenants on hazards such as fires and explosions but also protects them against carbon Monoxide poisoning. On completion a gas safety certificate must be issued and shared with the tenants or displayed in a communal area for all to see.  

Where no appliances are present but a landlord gas supply pipe is running through a communal area, these pipes should be inspected for gas leaks and physical damage. 

Using appliances when unoccupied 

Landlords advise their tenants to not use electrical and gas appliances when not occupying the property. Appliances can malfunction when in use and if no one is present to address the issue or disconnect them it can lead to a fire or other safety hazard. Additionally leaving appliances running when no one is present can be a waste of energy and potentially lead to higher energy bills. It is recommended to turn off appliances before leaving a property and to unplug them if possible. This also extends to gas heating appliances, fires and cooking appliances. Its g=highly advisable to not leave cooking appliances when not in the property or when asleep. 

Smoking in the property 

Smoking is not permitted in any enclosed or substantially enclosed non-domestic properties or workplace in England and Wales. This includes offices, shops, factories, pubs and extends to communal areas and lifts. The  responsible person for the premises must display no-smoking signs and take all reasonable steps to prevent smoking in prohibited areas. There are some exemptions to the restriction such as designated smoking rooms in hotels and guest houses but these must meet certain requirements. In addition landlords should advise tenants to not smoke within their residential properties. Apart from health hazards from smoking in an enclosed environment it can lead to incidents and fires 

Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) 

EICR stands for Electrical Installation Condition Report, his is a detailed report that assesses the condition of an electrical installation and identifies any deficiencies or potential hazards. A large percentage of dwelling fires are caused by faulty electrics. Electrical wiring like most items have a life span and usage over time creates wear, this can exert extra demands on the cables which can also be caused by modern equipment and additions. It is important that the condition of the installation and cables are regularly assessed by an electrician. 

The guidelines on EICR in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 state that the person responsible for the premises must ensure that electrical installations are maintained in a safe condition and that an EICR is carried out by a qualified electrician at least every five years, or more frequently if necessary. The report must be provided to the person responsible for the premises, and any necessary remedial work must be carried out within 28 days or sooner.  

Open Fires and Gas Fires 

Open fires and gas fires should not be used and avoided where possible in rental properties. Where they are installed and conbtnued to be used, regular servicing should be carried out. In addition flammable items should be kept at least 4 feet away from an open and gas fire. The landlord should also ensure the vents are operational and not blocked.  

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)  

Portable appliance testing (PAT), this is a process by which electrical appliances are regularly inspected and tested to ensure that they are safe to use and free of dangers or hazards.  The test also ensures that the appliances are functioning correctly, aside from electrical shocks  malfunctioning electrical equipment can often overheat which can result in fires. The frequency of PAT depends on the type of appliance and the environment in which they are used. Landlords are responsible for ensuring that appliances provided for their tenants are safe to use, and PAT can help to identify any potential hazards. Whilst landlords PAT testing obligations are limited to appliances provided by the landlord, it is good practice to test tenants appliances or advise them to carry out an independent PAT test. It is recommended to have appliances tested by a qualified electrician at least every 12 months or more frequently if necessary. 

Furniture and Furnishings 

Landlords must ensure that furniture and furnishings are maintained in a safe condition and do not pose a risk of fire. This includes ensuring that upholstered furniture and bedding meets the appropriate fire resistance standards, and that any fire safety labels or markings are not removed or defaced. It is recommended to check with the manufacturer or retailer for specific guidance on the fire safety of furniture and furnishings. Additionally it is recommended to avoid using items such as candles, incense, or open flames near furnishings, as these can pose a fire hazard. 

Use of fire resistant building material 

Landlords MUST ensure use of any building materials for new builds, retrofit works or renovations should adhere to all Fire Safety regulations. The need for this has recently been highlighted in recent years with unfortunate events which led to loss of life due to using incorrect materials on external wall insulation just to save on cost. Where unsure landlords should speak to the manufacturer or request copies of BBA Certificates for the products.  

Fire protection of the fabric and service risers 

Modern block and apartments are now designed and constructed with the greatest attention paid to the spread of fire. Fire protection and barriers are designed, and implemented  in service risers, between individual flats, and between flats and means of escape routes to delay the spread of fire in order to provide occupants time to evacuate. These measures can often be breached to add new services or extend existing, such as addition of new data cabling, spot lights, inspection hatches etc and often the material used does not have the same fire resistant functionality of the material used originally. Landlords must ensure any breach is correctly sealed by fire proof materials to minimise the risk of spreading from these weak points. 

Overloading sockets 

Overloaded sockets and extension leads can be one of the most common causes of electrical fires in a dwelling. Often extension leads or bars rated at 10 or 13 amps are over loaded with appliances that when combined exceed this limit. This creates an excessive demand causing the device to overheat and start a fire. Landlords should advise their tenants against this and where required in a home or place of work provide additional sockets by extending existing  circuits or adding new ones to meet the demand.  

 Landlords to take appropriate measures protects both themselves and their tenants 

To encourage landlords to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of their properties and tenants from fire, it is important to emphasize the benefits of doing so. This includes protecting tenants from injury or death, protecting property from damage, and avoiding legal liability and other penalties. Additionally, taking appropriate fire safety measures can help landlords protect their financial interests, such as rental income and legal fees. 

How can  tenants help minimise risk of fire in a property  

By taking particular precautions and being aware of potential fire hazards, tenants can contribute to reduce the risk of fire in a building. Tenants can contribute in a number of specific ways to fight fires, such as:  

  • following the landlord’s or the property manager’s fire safety instructions. Paying particular attention to the location of fire alarms, extinguishers, evacuation routes and other crucial safety information may be included in this.  
  • using correct equipment and cooking with caution. Keeping flammable things away from heat sources, paying attention while cooking, not leaving cooking unattended and unplugging equipment when not in use are a few examples of  this.  
  • keeping candles, incense and other open fires out of the room. If not handled with caution, these could cause a fire.  
  • avoiding smoking within the building. Since smoking frequently starts fires many landlords have no-smoking policies in place to reduce the risk.  
  • Keeping escape routes and exits clear at all times. This includes avoiding placing furniture or other objects in the way of windows, doors, or other escapes.  
  • reporting any potential fire risks or security issues right away to the landlord or building manager. This can include malfunctioning appliances, frayed electrical wires, or other problems that might start a fire.  
  • Storage of possessions by tenants in common places can actually be dangerous. Both accidental and intentional lighting of objects is possible. Items in stairwells and hallways can prevent people from fleeing a fire and hinder fire fighters from doing their work.  

Tenants can assist in lowering the risk of fire in their property and ensuring the safety of others by adhering to these recommendations and adopting a proactive approach to fire safety. 

Landlord Insurance  

As a landlord in the UK, you are responsible for ensuring that your property is adequately insured against the risks of fire and other hazards. This means that you should have a valid insurance policy in place that covers the building and any contents that you provide for your tenants. 

The specific details of your insurance coverage will depend on the terms of your policy and the type of property you own. It is important to carefully review the policy to understand what is and is not covered, and to make sure that you have sufficient coverage to protect your property and your financial interests. 

Some of the key things that you should consider when insuring your property against fire include: 

  • The value of your property and any contents that you provide for your tenants. This will determine the amount of coverage you need to have in place. 
  • The type of property you own and any specific risks associated with it. For example, properties in high-risk areas or properties with certain features, such as a thatched roof, may require additional coverage. 
  • The terms of your policy and the exclusions that may apply. Some policies may exclude certain types of loss or damage, such as damage caused by specific events or acts of vandalism. 
  • The requirements of any mortgage or loan that you have on the property. Your lender may have specific requirements for insurance coverage that you need to meet. 

It is recommended to consult with an insurance professional to ensure that you have the right coverage in place for your property and your specific needs. 

If there is a fire in your property in the UK, you should follow the steps below: 

  1. If the fire is small and contained, such as a waste bin on fire, try to extinguish it using a fire extinguisher or a fire blanket. 
  2. If the fire is larger and cannot be controlled, or if you are unsure, evacuate the property immediately. 
  3. Close all doors and windows behind you as you leave to slow the spread of the fire. 
  4. Call 999 and report the fire to the emergency services. Give the operator your address and details about the fire, including its location and the type of building. 
  5. Follow the instructions of the emergency services and do not re-enter the building until they have given you permission to do so. 

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