A Landlord in Manchester was recently given a twelve-month suspended sentence, with 200 hours of unpaid work and an £11,000 fine for failing to comply with fire safety regulations. During the period of the year where open fires, central heating and electric heaters are most used, Arthur takes a look at the responsibilities Landlords have to protect their tenants.
Prior to the tenants moving in a landlord, or property manager, should complete a fire risk assessment. This should be constituted of five parts:
- Identify any potential fire hazards
- Identify all people that will be at risk if a fire occurs
- Evaluate and remove or reduce things that increase the risk of fire
- Record your findings and inform all relevant people, inform them of what is to be done in the case of a fire and train them as to how to carry this out
- Review your plans regularly to ensure it is up to date
If your property has any gas appliances, for example a boiler or stove, these must have an annual check by a gas safety inspector. The manager of the property is then required to give the tenants a copy of the certificate within 28 days of this being completed.
All electric appliances should be checked to ensure they are safe and comply with the safety regulations set out by HMRC.
Landlords are also expected to have certain things in place if a fire does occur:
- Provide a smoke alarm on each story of the building and a carbon monoxide in any room that has a useable fireplace or wood-burner
- Ensure tenants have access to escape routes
- Provide fire alarms and fire extinguishers
If you are managing an HMO, there are other suggested precautions you should take. Councils have the power to take control of HMOs if they feel that they are a serious threat to a tenant’s health, safety and well-being, so it is imperative that managers take all necessary precautions.
One good practice is to place fire safety signs within the building, especially in communal areas. These should be easy to understand, with pictograms of instructions, especially when letting to tenants that may not speak or read English.
Fire inspection officers have the power to enter a property in order to inspect its fire safety. They can also ask for the production of fire safety records. If they feel that the building is not up to scratch, proceedings can eventually lead to a limitation or prevention of the building being used.
To ensure your rental properties are up to scratch regarding fire safety, you should contact your local fire and rescue service. Whilst they cannot carry out an official fire safety inspection, they can give you advice as to any precautions you should take.