If you own a rental property, you need to make sure it is as safe as possible for your tenants. Fire can be devastating, not only causing a loss of possessions but also loss of life.
In this guide, we will look at your responsibilities, and how to carry out a fire risk assessment.
- What is a fire risk assessment?
- What are the penalties?
- Do I need to get a fire risk assessment carried out?
- What if I own a HMO?
- Do I have to get someone to carry out a fire risk assessment for me?
- How often do I have to get a fire risk assessment carried out?
- What if I run a guest house?
- Are tenants responsible for fire safety?
- Is there anything else I need to have done in my property?
What is a fire risk assessment?
A fire risk assessment is a report carried out to determine what needs to be done in a rental property to reduce fire risk. It also looks at what needs to be done to ensure tenants can safely get out of the building if a fire breaks out.
The assessment looks at factors including:
- The location of smoke detectors, fire blankets and extinguishers
- Escape routes out of the building
- The fire resistance of doors
- Potential fire hazards (for example, flammable furniture and combustible storage)
An assessment is a legal requirement for all rental properties. If you have five or more occupants, your fire risk assessment must be written down.
What are the penalties?
If you are found guilty of endangering the life of your tenants, you could not only be liable for a fine or prison sentence, but you could also be banned from letting out properties in the future.
Do I need to get a fire risk assessment carried out?
Landlords have a legal duty to carry out a fire risk assessment and to ensure the property meets fire safety standards,
There is no specific document you have to complete – the key focus is on identifying and making improvements.
You are also legally required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel-burning appliance (for example, a wood burner).
What if I own an HMO?
If you own a house of multiple occupation (HMO), you need to take additional precautions. This is because the fire risk in an HMO is higher, and the people living there are less likely to be acquainted.
For example, fire extinguishers are required on each floor in common areas, and emergency lighting is needed for buildings larger than two storeys. Regulations can vary, so we would recommend checking with your local council.
When applying for an HMO licence with your local council, you will need to provide evidence of a recent fire risk assessment.
Do I have to get someone to carry out a fire safety risk assessment for me?
You can carry out a fire risk assessment yourself. There are lots of checklists available online you can download and use.
However, if you are unsure of what you need to do, or you are too busy to carry one out, we recommend getting a professional to do it on your behalf.
How often do I have to get a fire risk assessment carried out?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 says that any fire risk assessment should be ‘reviewed by the responsible person regularly so as to keep it up to date’.
The law doesn’t define what is meant by ‘regularly’ but we would recommend that you review your fire risk assessment at least once a year.
Even small changes can have a major impact on how tenants can exit your building in an emergency.
You should also review your fire risk assessment and fire escape route if your circumstances change. For example:
- You move around furniture
- There are changes to the property’s layout
- You build an extension
- A younger, older or disabled person moves into the property
- There has been a fire
- Fire safety equipment is stolen, replaced or damaged
What if I run a guest house?
If you run a guest house, holiday home or bed and breakfast, a fire risk assessment is a legal requirement.
As with landlords you will need to have an assessment carried out regularly, and make visitors aware of how to exit the property in case of fire.
Are tenants responsible for fire safety?
Yes – they are responsible for ensuring they don’t create fire hazards. This can include blocking fire escape routes, smoking in the property and ‘daisy-chaining’ extension leads.
If a tenant sees something they think is a potential fire risk, they need to report it to you so you can fix the problem.
They also need to be aware of the fire escape plan for your property.
We recommend including all of this information in your tenancy agreement.
Is there anything else I need to have done in my property?
It is a legal requirement to have all the elements in your electrical installation such as light fittings, circuit breakers and plug sockets tested through EICR. You must have this done every five years.
If you own properties in Scotland, you also must get electrical equipment testing (also known as PAT testing) carried out too. If you are in England or Wales, you do not have to get testing done, but it can be a good way of showing your tenants you are keeping them safe.
Need help with a fire safety risk assessment?
If you don’t have the time to carry out a fire risk assessment or just aren’t quite sure where to begin, we can help.
All our assessors are fully experienced in fire risk assessments and supply reports to landlords across the country.
Contact us today and see how we can help keep you compliant.
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