Understanding the rules around fire safety is an important part of your responsibilities as a landlord . Your exact obligations will vary depending on your property type, number of occupants and the tenancy agreement you have in place. And if you own a house in multiple occupation (HMO) or a commercial property, there’ll be additional requirements that you’ll need to be aware of, too.
To find out exactly what legislation you need to be on top of, why it’s important and, crucially, how to meet your responsibilities, read on for our guide to landlord fire safety.
All landlords have a ‘common law’ duty to ensure the properties they let are hazard-free, to protect the health and safety of tenants. Beyond that, here are some more-specific landlord fire safety regulations and who they apply to:
Are you a landlord of a HMO? If so, you need to familiarise yourself with the Building Regulations Act 2010. It covers your obligation to fit and regularly check fire alarms, heat detectors and smoke detectors placed throughout the property. This is especially important in high-risk areas like the kitchen. The Building Regulations Act 2010 also stipulates that:
The HHRS outlines the requirements under the Housing Act 2004 in relation to residential properties in England and Wales – in particular, for private landlords.
While this regulation is not specific to fire safety, it does cover your overall responsibility as a landlord for the health and safety of your property and its tenants. It also provides guidance on looking after the exterior, structural elements of the property and inside facilities, including:
In a nutshell, this legislation means you must install at least one smoke alarm on each floor, plus a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that has a fuel-burning appliance – like a coal fire or wood burning stove. You also need to make sure all alarms are in working order at the beginning of each new tenancy.
If you fail to meet these requirements, local authorities can fine you up to £5,000. For more advice, read this government-issued Q&A booklet.
If you’re a non-residential landlord, this legislation applies to you. Since it was set up in 2005, the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLC) has published a number of guidance documents to help you meet your responsibilities as a commercial landlord.
If you’re a landlord of an HMO, or you have a joint tenancy of three or more tenants, additional management requirements will apply. All bedsits and shared houses are governed by The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 which focus on the safety of common areas.
Ultimately, responsibility here lies with the manager of the shared property. So if you have a letting agent managing on your behalf, this falls to them. Managing the property yourself? Make sure you’re on top of these requirements.
There are additional fire regulations which may also apply if you own a HMO; specifically those that need a licence under the Housing Act 2004.
The following three licences have specific fire-safety conditions you need to consider:
At best, a fire in your rental property would be inconvenient; at worst, it could be devastating. And if one happens and you’ve failed to meet the landlord fire safety regulations, there could be some pretty severe consequences, including:
While you can’t always prevent a fire happening, as a landlord you can make sure you’re fully prepared in the event of one.
The Landlord Guild has created a detailed guide on what to do in the event of a fire, which explains:
Securing the right level of landlord insurance can offer you some peace of mind, should the worst happen. Find out more and get a quote today.