Understanding fire safety is one of the most important parts of being a landlord, and there are all sorts of regulations in place to make sure that your rental property will be protected against fire. But where do you begin? If you’re a landlord, here are the most important things you should know about fireproofing your property.
Legislation and guidance
There are two main pieces of fire safety legislation that all landlords must adhere to: the Housing Act (2004) and the Fire Safety Order (2005). Fortunately these documents have been condensed into a set of national guidelines that cover all the fire safety essentials you need to know as a landlord. Essentially, this guidance recommends carrying out a fire safety risk assessment on your property in order to identify areas of risk and to take steps to resolve them. This includes identifying and lighting escape routes, supplying fire detection and fire fighting equipment, and ensuring that materials such as wood and plasterboard are finished with flame-retardant coatings.
Reducing fire risks
There are certain precautions that can be taken in all rental properties to lower the risk of a fire breaking out, or of spreading if it does. For instance, all the appliances and white goods that come with the property should be regularly serviced to keep them safe, and there should be functioning smoke alarms on every floor of the property to provide early warning of a fire so that tenants can escape in plenty of time. There should also be clear, unobstructed escape routes from every floor (including escape windows on the first floor), and the external door to the property should be unlockable from the inside without a key. Finally, all the internal doors should be fire doors, which, when closed, are able to temporarily resist fire.
Different types of properties
Certain types of properties require extra fire safety precautions, depending on how they will be used and who will be living in them. In a single occupancy property of five or six storeys, for example, it is advised to provide signs indicating a second escape route, in case the primary escape route is unavailable. Similarly, in a shared house of five or six storeys, you are required to provide emergency escape lighting, and it is recommended that you put a fire extinguisher on each landing. Bedsits require fire blankets in all rooms with cooking equipment, and a building that has been converted into flats must have self-closing fire doors at the entrance to each flat. You can find all the requirements and recommendations for you particular property in the national guidance document.
Educating your tenants
Of course, many of the ways in which a fire can start are due to actions taken by the tenants living in the property, and so it’s a good idea to advise your tenants what precautions they can take to prevent this. For instance, tenants should make sure they never obstruct an escape route, and that they keep flammable items away from hobs, heaters and fuse boxes. You can ensure that these safety requirements are being met by carrying out regular inspections (you can do this anywhere from one to four times a year), and you should also regularly check the Home Safety Guidance website to ensure that you are up to date with all the legal requirements for your property.
Do you have a property to let in Bristol? Contact Gough Quarters today to get started.
Fire extinguisher by Piotr Chrobot on Unsplash
Exit sign by Anestiev on Pixabay