Fire Safety in Rental Properties - Tips For Saving Lives
Fire safety in rental properties forms a key part of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018. Under the Act, homes with an ‘unsafe layout’ are deemed unfit for human habitation, as are those where there is a risk of contact with fire, flames, fuel combustion products, electrical hazards or where there is a risk of explosion.
The Act sought to reassure tenants across the UK that standards would rise, with one in ten renters expressing fire concerns in a survey by Shelter before the government took action. As a result, the Act features common sense solutions that are worth documenting in order to ensure that you provide adequate fire safety in rental properties.
When you make a risk assessment of rental property fire safety, you should take these factors into consideration:
Your rental properties need smoke alarms as a way of ensuring your tenants are safe from fire. Smoke alarms detect fires at the earliest stage and send a loud, clear warning to residents. This notice can make the difference between life and death, giving tenants a chance to escape. In fact, statistics show that you are four times more likely to survive a fire if you have a working smoke alarm in your home.
You should place at least one smoke alarm on each storey of the rental property, and you must test them twice a year at least to ensure they work correctly. Not only do these steps help to keep your tenants safe, but smoke alarms are also linked to reduced property damage from fire incidents.
You should also install, by law, carbon monoxide detectors in every room in the property where there is a device that burns solid fuel.
Fire Extinguishers and Fire Blankets
Another consideration of fire safety in rental properties is installing fire extinguishers and fire blankets. When there are more than three tenants living in the same HMO (house of multiple occupancies), it is a requirement to provide such protections. You should ensure there is a fire blanket in every kitchen area and at least one fire extinguisher on every storey of the building.
These provisions help prevent injuries as well as the spread of the fire through the property. Even if you do not let an HMO, it is worth considering providing these fire safety measures for tenants in order to help protect them against the dangers of fire.
Fire doors are another fire prevention method that is a legal requirement for HMOs, but not for single-let properties. For letting agents or landlords who let an HMO, every door that leads to an escape route must be a fire door. This means that it resists fire and closes automatically. It is also sensible to ensure that doors to kitchens are fire doors too, due to the increased risk of a fire starting in those areas.
For all other properties, installing fire doors is optional, but advisable. The kitchen is a priority, with a fire door helping to stop the spread of fire around the home, potentially saving lives and minimising property damage at the same time.
Emergency lighting is another example of fire safety in rental properties. This is battery-powered lighting that switches on when the regular power goes out. It guides tenants to the escape route and is a requirement in some homes, but recommended in all properties. The size and make-up of the rental property dictate whether you legally need emergency lighting, but it is worth considering even if you do not need it by law.
During a panicked evacuation in the night, the light provided helps tenants to reach safety more easily and in less time, making it a very effective tool for rental property fire safety.
Other Ways to Prevent Fire
There are a host of other ways to prevent fire in a rental property. Ensuring relevant gas safety checks take place is a big one. This means that your appliances are inspected by a Gas Safe registered professional to make sure they are as safe as can be.
Regular inspections of the property help too. Check that there are no obstructions for fire exits or other blockages that may prevent an escape. Looking at the furniture and furnishings of the home to make sure they meet current fire regulations is important. If an old sofa does not meet the requirements, for example, consider replacing it.
If you want help ensuring your properties are as safe as they can be, consider outsourcing your property management to Executive Property Management Solutions. As part of our offer, we organise safety checks, complete maintenance and make sure that you are compliant with the latest regulations. Talk to us today by calling 0208 5757630.