Fire safety in private rented accommodation (non-HMO)

Landlords have a legal obligation to make sure that the risk posed by fire is managed and that safety measures are in place to reduce the risk. Council officers carrying out risk based inspections under the HHSRS must consider fire safety as part of the overall assessment of property standards and you will be expected to do all that is reasonable in the interests of safety. Specific regulations apply in addition to a risk based approach which are detailed in this page.

 

I'm a landlord - what should I do to make my property safe?

There are specific legal requirements imposed by the The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 which require you to provide a smoke alarm on each level of the property where there is a room used as living accommodation. These regulations also brought in a requirement for Carbon Monoxide detectors in rooms where there is a solid fuel burning appliance (i.e an open fire or stove). Further details regarding fire detection are provided in the tabs below. You must also abide by the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations which require that any items you provide meet current safety regulations and you should take a written note proving that all items you have provided have the appropriate label when you undertake a moving in inventory. If your property is located in Hexthorpe or Edlington and you have a selective licence, you must comply with any fire safety conditions which are applied through the licence. Further details of these schemes can be landlord licensing pages

Although there is no legal requirement for a documented fire safety risk assessment for single houses, we recommend that you think about the risk posed by fire and the measures you deem sensible to reduce the risk. When officers from the Housing Enforcement team carry out an HHSRS survey at a rented property they will evaluate the likelihood of a fire occurring and then the severity of outcomes in terms of the tenant's health. All of our officers will have regard to the LACORS Housing - Fire Safety guidance when taking decisions. This guide is available in the downloads section and pages 34-38 provide examples of what we would expect to find in different types of single let property. You can also find out more about how to carry out a fire risk assessment by following the government's guidance for sleeping accommodation. 

If you let a flat in a block of flats, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order FSO will apply to the common parts and place duties on the person responsible for their management. It is strongly recommended that you check with the person or company who has responsibility for the common parts that they have undertaken a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and that the findings are being properly implemented. Whilst the local authority has a responsibility for fire safety within individual flats, the Fire Service are responsible for the enforcement of the FSO. Specific guidance on this is included with in the downloads section - see fire safety in purpose built blocks of flats. 

If you carry out building works within your property or purchase a property which has been subject to conversion (for example from a single dwelling to self contained flats) Building Regulations could apply. It's critical that these regulations are complied with, so be sure that this has been addressed in the conveyancing process and/ or the planning phase of any building works. If you have any enquiries regarding Building Regulations, you can email our Building Control team

Where should smoke alarms be situated?

The requirement under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 is for a smoke alarm on each level of the property where there is a room used as living accommodation. Although there are no specific requirements about where a smoke alarm should be sited, in general they should be fixed to the ceiling (you should also check the manufacturer's guidance), as close to the middle of the room and at least 30cm away from any light fittings. 

What type of alarm should I install?

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 do not provide any details on the type of alarm you need to install. Our recommendation and that provided by LACORS (available in the downloads section - see the examples section starting on page 37) for single let property of up to four storeys is for a Grade D, LD3 system. This is a wired, interlinked system with detectors located on the means of escape on each level. These systems include a battery back up in case there is an electrical fault. 

There are also different types of smoke alarm and whilst you will need a qualified electrician to install a mains wired system, you can purchase and install your own battery operated smoke alarms without any requirement for qualifications. The most common types of battery operated smoke alarms are optical and ionisation. Optical smoke alarms operate by emitting infra red light into the chamber which is scattered when smoke particles enter. This change is then detected by the electronic components in the alarm. Ionisation smoke alarms operate by ionising the air thus creating a small electrical charge. When smoke particles enter the chamber, the balance of the charge changes and this is detected. Ionisation smoke alarms are well suited for use on landings as they are very responsive to rapidly developing fires. However they are prone to false alarms and you may wish to consider changing to an optical type if this becomes a persistent problem. 

Heat alarms are used for kitchen areas and garages and are not required by the regulations. 

Should my property have fire doors?

There is no specific legal requirement for fire doors in single let property (assuming that building work is not being undertaken and there is no requirement for Building Regulations). However Housing Enforcement officers will apply the HHSRS when assessing the risk posed by fire in a single let property, meaning that the measures required to prevent the spread of fire and smoke must be proportionate to the overall risk posed by fire in the property. Certain situations could increase the risk such that the officer deems it appropriate for fire doors to be installed in particular locations. An example could be where the staircase is centrally located meaning that the occupant would be required to exit via a risk room (e.g. a kitchen or living room). Officers will have regard to the LACORS Fire Safety Guidance (see downloads section, page 37) which does not require fire doors in single let property of up to four storeys with a non complex escape route. 

Who is responsible for smoke alarms?

On the first day of a new tenancy, the Letting Agent/Landlord must make sure that each alarm is in proper working order. Please be aware that some alarms have an expiry date and you should monitor this as part of your risk management programme. Once installed and confirmed to be working, the tenant is responsible for making sure they continue to work. The tenant should test the smoke alarms every month and ensure that if they are battery operated, the battery is changed regularly to ensure continued protection. We recommend smoke alarms are tested by the landlord / agent during periodic inspections. 

What if smoke detection is not provided or is faulty? 

In the first instance report it to your Letting Agent/Landlord, they have responsibility to ensure the correct provision is made. If after informing the Letting Agent/Landlordthe matter is not rectified it can be reported to us using the disrepair report form in our disrepair page. Housing Enforcement officers have legal powers to serve remedial notices where the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 are found to be in breach. Ultimately civil penalty charges of up to £5000 can be issued by the Council under these regulations. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated: 07 December 2020 09:18:54