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How to keep your rental property fire-safe - the top tips

As a landlord, your primary concern does not only entail providing your tenants with a roof over their heads but also ensuring that the property is safe and secure before they decide to move in.


One of the most devastating things that can happen is if a fire starts in your property which could leave your home uninhabitable and would result in time-consuming, costly repairs and a loss in rental income. It could also, of course, pose a serious and even deadly risk to your tenants in the very worst circumstances.


As such, there are a number of legal obligations and measures you need to comply with as a landlord to ensure your rental property is safe. Action can be taken against you in the event of a fire if you have not provided suitable fire-safe accommodation, therefore it is extremely important for landlords to take fire safety seriously.


According to Firemark, the risks of experiencing a fire are seven times higher for people who live in rented or shared accommodation - information which should spur landlords to make their rental property fire-safe.


While accidents, unfortunately, do happen on rare occasions, there are certain guidelines that may aid landlords in preventing the starting or spreading of a fire, and below we will address these practical steps more in detail.


Mandatory fire safety regulations


With the safety of your property and tenants in mind, there are some fire safety regulations put in place that are required by law.


As a landlord, you will have to provide and install a smoke alarm on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance - for example a coal fire or wood-burning stove.


Fire extinguishers are only obligatory in large HMOs (house in multiple occupation), but it is advised to go beyond the minimum requirements wherever possible, so you may wish to provide one regardless of your property type. Like alarms, extinguishers should be inspected at the start of each tenancy and rechecked periodically. 


You will also have to make sure that there is access to escape routes at all times and that any furniture and furnishings supplied by you are fire safe. The electrical wiring, sockets, and fuse boxes is also your responsibility as the landlord and regulations announced in January 2019 brought all rental properties in line with legislation that already applied to HMOs.


These regulations require landlords to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent, at least every five years. Landlords have to provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants, and to their local authority if requested.


Inventory and inspections: reduce the risks of a fire


As a landlord, you must implement certain measures to help ensure fire safety - make it part of your inventory and inspections. Your inventory provides an independent record of what additions you make to the property and if a fire was to break out because of a tenants’ actions that wasn’t safe from a fire perspective, then you could prove that you weren’t liable for the damages.


During your inspections, check that your tenant hasn’t taken any fire safety labels off furniture you provided, or replaced items without your knowledge. Make a detailed record of these changes on your inventory in writing, and take photos as well.


Another good safety measure would be to assess the potential fire risk at your property. You can only do this legally if it is carried out by a ‘competent person’, such as a professionally qualified Fire Risk Assessor. Perform periodical risk assessments regularly, taking note of everything within the property that could cause a fire whilst also working out all the different ways that tenants could be warned of fire or smoke risks in the property.


Prepare for any eventuality


Following fire safety requirements are incredibly critical for landlords which will help prepare for any eventuality and prevent any hazardous incidents like a fire from happening. Making sure that you have comprehensive landlord insurance to cover any potential fire damage costs is also vital for your peace of mind.


Whether you decide to outsource or take full responsibility, you are still obligated to provide evidence that you have taken every reasonable measure expected to protect your tenant and property from smoke or fire damage.


As a landlord, you should be doing everything you can to protect your asset and your tenant, not just the legal minimum. If a fire does occur, you should be confident that your tenant will be alerted in time for them to escape, or if there is a chance of carbon monoxide poisoning, they will be warned before any damage can occur. 


To help ensure you are fully fire-safe, you need to work with an experienced, reputable letting agent. As a top letting agent operating across Essex and East London, here at Ideal Locations we can help you to get the most out of your rental homes and ensure they are kept fully fire-compliant at all times.


For more information on our current operations, please contact us today. We also offer a free online valuation to give you an estimate on how much your home could be charging in rent.