The landlord's guide to protecting against fire hazards
Do you ever worry that your let property might burn down to the ground? Probably not too often, but fire safety should cross your mind when applying for buildings insurance, installing fire alarms or even when stumbling across a property fire related story in the news.
This article looks at the simple steps private landlords can take to put the right safety measures in place to protect from fire and ensure their let property insurance remains valid.
Fires in landlord’s properties
Fire crews in the UK attended over 39,000 dwelling fires in 2013-14, with fatalities, casualties or significant damage to the home. This does not include incidents where fires and burns occurred but the fire service was not called out. Fires and burns are just as likely in let properties as in privately owned homes, for example those caused by careless behaviour when cooking, smoking, ironing and faulty electrical equipment.
Landlord’s legal requirements
- Ensure fire exits are clear and accessible
- Ensure furniture and furnishings are fire safe certified
- Provide fire alarms and extinguishers (in HMOs)
Let property insurance requirements
Although it is not a legal requirement to carry out fire risk assessments and Fire Safety Orders for some private residential let properties, many insurers will require a minimum basic level of responsibility and safety precautions to be in place. For example an insurer may insist on regular fire assessments and for fire alarms and extinguishers to be present for the insurance to be valid. Claims may not be considered if these conditions were not met.
Different property types, different rules
Depending on the property type and the type of rented accommodation contract, different legislation applies. The Residential Landlord’s Association provide a fires safety table, which summarises the regulations that apply to certain private let properties and occupation.
Electrical appliances and inspections
If your let property comes with electrical appliances, it is the landlord’s responsibility to check they are safe for use. Houses of multiple occupation (HMO), such as student let properties and bedsits, must have an electrical safety check every five years.
Fire resistant furniture
The Fire and Safety Regulations 1988 state that all furnishings within let properties must comply with the latest fire resistant requirements. This includes all curtains, beds, chairs, carpets, cushions, etc. Compliant fire resistant furniture will have a rectangular label permanently attached.
Fire alarms and fire escapes
It is the responsibility of the landlord to install and check that fire alarms on all living area floors are in good working order. It is important that fire escapes and the surrounding area are clear and easily accessible.
Landlords are required to provide fire extinguishers by law for HMOs. However, it is prudent to supply fire extinguishers and fire blankets for your tenants. This will offer additional safety for occupants and the property.
As with all property investments, landlords are best positioned when taking a preventative approach, with regular maintenance key to avoiding the disastrous consequences of fires. However, we cannot predict accidents, therefore safety tools such as fire blankets and extinguishers will help ensure small incidents are contained.
Specialist landlord’s property insurance is vital to ensure you are covered for damage. Insurance cover will vary, depending on the policy you choose. Discussing this with your insurance broker will ensure that you have the right cover in place and any steps you need to be aware of to ensure your policy is valid.