The priority for the majority of landlords is rental income that is paid on time, but there is also the priority of providing a property that is fundamentally safe for tenants to live in. Without ensuring the property is safe when it comes to emergencies such as a fire, you as a landlord could be at risk of prosecution for putting a tenant in harm’s way. As a market leading expert, lettings and estate agent JOHNS&CO are outlining a few fire regulations which landlords should add to their to-do list when letting out a property.
Firstly, landlords must install at least one fire alarm on all floors of the home as a bare minimum. Statistics from Gov UK state that you are eight times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there are no working smoke alarms. If there is an upstairs fire started by faulty electrics or a candle left burning, for example, then just one fire alarm on the ground floor will not be able to detect the smoke enough for tenants to act quickly.
“Installing enough smoke alarms in a property covers both yourself as a landlord, in terms of complying with regulations, and your tenants safety,” says Matt Johnson, Area Director and at JOHNS&CO, “above all, smoke alarms save lives by detecting a fire quickly so keeping your tenants safe is the number one priority.”
Landlords also must ensure that if they are providing a fully or part furnished property, that all furniture is fire-resistant – the label will feature a fire-safety symbol for confirmation. The only items that are not required to meet these requirements are mattresses, bed-bases, pillows, cushions, and bed covers, but it is wise to provide beyond the bare minimum. Any furniture that a tenant brings in themselves is their responsibility and they must make sure it is fire-resistant.
Any gas equipment landlords supply must also be safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer, who also does an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue. It is a legal requirement to provide tenants with a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in or within 28 days of the check. Gas is extremely volatile and highly flammable and can cause a fire or explosion if it leaks – it is not just about complying with the law but ensuring tenants have a property that is fundamentally safe to live in.
“Landlords are responsible for making sure that electrical wiring, sockets, and fuse boxes are safe throughout the tenancy and must be checked at least every five years”, Matt adds, “The regulations came into force for new tenancies on 1 June 2020 and have applied to existing tenancies since1 April 2021. While these measures are primarily designed to protect tenants, improvements to electrical safety should also lead to a reduction in electrical fire risk for landlords.”
Despite putting all the required fire safety measures in place, there is still the possibility that a fire could occur. It is essential that landlord insurance is in place to mitigate against fire risk. Whilst this can’t prevent damage from being caused, it guarantees that you as the landlord won’t be responsible for paying for repairs or rebuilds. Landlord insurance policies typically include coverage for fire-related risks, such as loss of rental income and liability protection should a fire cause harm to tenants, their guests, or neighbouring properties where a landlord could be legally liable for the damages.
Matt adds: “Ensuring you use a reputable and experienced letting agency to manage your rental investment is essential in navigating the risks and ensuring you are fully compliant in all aspects of fire safety.
“Letting agencies of high standards ensure all compulsory elements are in place such as EICRs and gas safety in addition to carrying out regular inspections and full inventories so your most valuable asset is safe and risk-free. Letting agencies can advise on all elements of your rental investment from contracts, referencing, taxes, market price, safety and local authority licensing to property management.
“We at JOHNS&CO, for example, also have an in-house Compliance Administrator who can provide support to landlords by ensuring they are compliant with regulations.”