31 Jan Landlord’s Fire Safety Responsibilities
Landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their properties comply with fire safety regulations. This is absolutely critical: there is an average of 32,000 fires in domestic premises every year, and in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy the importance of complying with fire safety regulations could not be clearer. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, landlords must undertake a fire risk assessment in all areas of their property, including individual rooms, shared hallways and corridors, communal areas, stairways, and exits. They must carry out an individual fire risk assessment for each separate property.
A fire risk assessment should include five key stages:
- Identify the fire risks (e.g. non-compliant furnishings, blocked stairways, or faulty electrics).
- Consider who is at risk (e.g. the tenants and any potential visitors).
- Implement appropriate control measures (e.g. improving escape routes, installing smoke alarms, ensuring people in shared properties can raise the alarm, etc.).
- Record the findings of the risk assessment. This is crucial for evidence of compliance and for future reviews.
- Review and update the risk assessment regularly (e.g. when a new tenant moves in or if the building is altered in any way).
After a fire risk assessment, landlords must ensure all the necessary installations are in place and that they maintain fire safety on an ongoing basis.
More specifically, they should:
- Ensure each property has suitable alarm systems, including heat and smoke detectors. There must be an alarm on each floor, which should comply with current British standards, be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, and be tested at the beginning of each tenancy.
- Ensure all doors can be easily opened in case of an emergency.
- Carry out regular electrical and gas safety checks.
- Ensure all escape routes are clear at all times.
- Ensure main front doors are a 30-minute resistant fire door (FD30).
- Ask tenants to report any defects or fire safety hazards immediately.
- Consider introducing a smoking policy, such as one that states tenants should not smoke indoors.
- Ensure any supplied furnishings are fire resistant and meet safety regulations.
- Communicate to tenants about what to do in case of fire.
Properties occupied by multiple tenants
Shared properties must have at least one fire extinguisher (suitable for the specific environment) per floor of the building and at least one fire blanket in each shared kitchen. They must also have a Fire Action Notice in a communal part of the building, such as the entrance hall. This notice should detail what actions people should take during a fire.
Furthermore, the landlord should ensure that there is appropriate fire safety signage, such as those indicating the location of fire exits, assembly points, fire alarms, extinguishers, and any other fire-fighting equipment. Signage must be clear and understandable by every resident.