Fire Safety Regulations in Rental Property
Following October the 1st 2015 and the introduction of the ‘The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015’ all rental properties have specific regulations concerning smoke and CO alarms.
HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) have additional safety and fire regulations to follow with the Fire Safety Order 2005 requiring landlord to perform certain duties including a Risk Assessment on their HMO in respect to fire safety.
Do landlords need to fit a smoke alarm in a rental property?
Following the introduction of The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 from the 1st October 2015 smoke alarms and in certain circumstances, Carbon Monoxide Alarms are a mandatory requirement.
What are the smoke and carbon monoxide alarm requirements?
A rental property requires a minimum of one smoke alarm per floor, alongside this landlords and agents are required to have a Carbon Monoxide monitor in any living area where a solid fuel burning appliance is located.
What happens if you don’t comply?
If a landlord fails to comply with the new regulations they could face a fine of up to £5,000.
The complication comes in the detail of the legislation. For instance, what happens where a tenant disconnects or takes out the batteries in the new fire alarm? Is it really the landlords’ responsibility to ensure that the property is regularly inspected to ensure that the fire alarm is working or has not been disconnected, and if so, how often should a landlord inspect the fire or carbon monoxide alarm and does a landlord have to ensure that their letting agent does the same? Your agent should be able to advise you on how to handle these type of circumstances.
What type of smoke alarm should I install?
The legislation is not prescriptive about what type of fire alarm or carbon monoxide alarm needs to be fitted. Prior to the new regulations properties built before 1992 landlords were allowed to install battery operated alarms. Residential buildings built or refurbished after 1992 are required to have a mains wired smoke alarm.
Who is responsible for testing and maintaining the fire alarms?
Landlords need to include a document possibly in their tenancy pack with the clear instruction that tenants need to test and be responsible for the replacement of any batteries required by the fire alarm. This instruction sheet should be included alongside the copy of the tenancy agreement, the property inventory and any appliance operating instructions, or emergency procedures information as part as a moving in pack given to tenants.
It is important for landlords to determine who is responsible for the testing and maintaining of the smoke alarms, whether the landlord, letting agent or tenant. If the letting agent is to be responsible, this should be noted in the management contract. If the tenant is to be made responsible for this then, adequate warnings must be given in writing by the landlord that this is the case. It is however the Landlords responsibility to ensure that any supplied detectors are working at the start of a tenancy from the 1st October 2015. The emphasis placed here is that the detector is working at the start of the tenancy and documentation to state that this has been tested as working is highly recommended as part of your move in process.
Fire Extinguishers in a Rental Property
There is no compulsory requirement for landlords to provide fire extinguishers or fire blankets in normal tenanted properties, but again, this may be a wise precaution by landlords, in areas such as the kitchen.
It is important to remember if you do make the commitment to provide fire extinguishers to a rental property, you need to be aware that a 12 monthly service of the equipment needs to be carried out. By providing a fire extinguisher it becomes your responsibility to have it regularly serviced.
Regulations on furniture in a rental property
Regulations on fire safety do apply to any furniture and furnishings in a rental property and you should always check to ensure that any soft furnishings contain a fire safety label.