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Be Prepared: Fire Safety Advice for Landlords

House fires are a regular occurrence across the UK. In the past few years, fire rescue services attended around 162,000 fires in England, some of which sadly resulted in fatalities.

One of the key steps in bringing this number down is not only for homeowners and tenants to follow the latest safety advice, but also for landlords to know their responsibilities. Here we will look at some of the legal requirements for landlords in terms of fire safety.

While a great many fires are caused by actions of tenants – such as leaving cooking unattended or dropping a cigarette indoors, landlords are still legally responsible for taking reasonable precautions to protect against such fires.

Risk assessments
A good place to start is to perform a fire risk assessment. This will help you to identify any areas where your property could be vulnerable, act to prevent fire and give your tenants guidelines on evacuation and fire management.

You will begin by looking for fire hazards, and for any areas of the property where a fire could potentially break out. Think about every possibility, no matter how unlikely.

Next you will identify exactly who will be at risk in the event of a fire and any special circumstances such as if you have disabled tenants or if your property is multi-occupancy.

Once you have observed how a fire could break out and who could be at risk, you will need to take steps to reduce that risk. This could be through early warning systems like smoke alarms, or through practical fire management tools like fire blankets, extinguishers and sprinkler systems. Be sure to record everything on paper, including your plans and any action that has been taken, along with dates. To be on the safe side you may also want to create an emergency plan for your tenants to follow in the event of a fire.

In an ideal world you would review and update your records constantly. However, at the very least you should aim to update your records and check that all your fire safety mechanisms are in good working order between every tenancy and upon your annual house inspections, if you have them.

Common problems
A high percentage of home fires are caused by faulty appliances. Therefore, it’s essential to have a Gas Safe accredited engineer come out to assess your appliances annually, both when your property is occupied and unoccupied. You will also need to have any electrical appliances checked by a professional as they can also pose problems.

Under UK law, any property built after June 1992 must have a mains operated, interconnected smoke alarm fitted to every floor of the property. Be sure to show your tenants, or give them written instructions on how to test the smoke alarm and when necessary change the batteries.

Finally, if you let out a furnished property then to comply with Fire and Safety regulations you will need to only choose furniture which a good level of fire resistance. This covers any upholstered item of furniture or furnishing, i.e. beds, sofas, mattresses, etc. Click here for more information on private renting and your safety responsibilities as a landlord: https://www.gov.uk/private-renting/your-landlords-safety-responsibilities.

For more tips and advice for landlords, please click here, or alternatively call us on 01904 650650 to find out how we can help you effectively market your property.

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