Fire safety in rental properties
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations
The minimum legal requirement is for a working smoke alarm on each floor of a rented property on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. This includes a bathroom or toilet.
If there is a solid fuel combustion appliance such as a coal fire or wood burning stove, a carbon monoxide alarm must be fitted in that room.
Alarms must be tested at the start of every new tenancy. Landlords who fail to comply with the duties outlined in the regulations may be subject to a civil penalty of up to £5,000.
The regulations do not stipulate the type of alarm to be installed; we recommend that all alarms should be mains-wired with battery back-up and interlinked, and be tested regularly. Smoke alarms should normally be fitted to the ceiling in a circulation space - i.e. a landing or a hallway. Carbon monoxide alarms should normally be located at head height either on a wall or shelf, approximately 1 to 3 meters away from the solid fuel burning appliance.
Best practice for fire alarm systems is set out in BS:5839 Part 6, which recommends additional smoke alarms in living rooms and heat alarms in kitchens of larger properties and those let to more than one household. HMOs and bedsits will require more extensive systems and fire doors. Contact environmental health or a fire safety professional for advice on these properties.
For further information on the Fire and Carbon Monoxide Alarm regulations please refer to Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms: explanatory booklet for landlords
Other fire safety measures
There should be an escape route from each bedroom which is kept clear and does not pass through a kitchen or living room. Additional fire safety measures may be needed if this is not possible. Final exit doors should be openable from the inside without the use of a key (e.g. a thumb-turn lock).
A fire blanket is recommended in all kitchens.
You must ensure that the electrical installation and any electric or gas appliances you provide are safe, and give a copy of the gas safety certificate to your tenants each year. The best way to check the electrical system is to have an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) done by a competent electrician every five years. This is likely to become a legal requirement in the near future. PAT testing is not a legal requirement, but is recommended every 4 years for appliances such as fridges or washing machines provided by the landlord, or every two years for any highly portable appliances.
Any furniture and furnishings you provide must be fire safe. Check that armchairs, sofas, cushions, beds and pillows have a fire safety label.
Further guidance on fire safety provisions is available in the Housing -fire safety: Guidance on fire safety provisions for certain types of existing housing