Fire alarm requirements for residential properties
You might believe that a fire or a case of carbon monoxide poisoning at your property is unlikely. But every year, many people fall victim to such tragedies in their homes. Research has shown that residents who are not protected from fire or carbon monoxide poisoning have a significantly higher chance of being killed or injured in their homes.
As a residential landlord, you have a legal and moral responsibility to protect your tenants from the risks of fire and carbon monoxide. You will also wish to protect your investment in your property. So, what are the latest fire safety regulation for rental properties?
Keeping abreast of the regulations
In addition to acquainting yourself with the current rules and regulations, it is essential to keep up to date with any changes. The government is keen to improve the fire safety of rental properties and so the regulations may be revised from time to time. Changes can be triggered by a particular incident or as a result of a general review. Regulations may be imposed nationally, regionally or locally.
If you fail to keep up with changes to the appropriate legislation and adhere to the rules, you could incur a significant fine. An injury to or the death of a tenant could result in a custodial sentence and you would have to live with the knowledge that you did not fulfil your obligations.
Fire alarms in rental properties – single occupancy
The current regulations in England for single occupancy homes require private sector landlords to install at least one smoke alarm on each story of their property, in which there is a room used as living accommodation. However, the more alarms you install, the better. The few seconds that multiple alarms might save when tenants need to escape, could be the difference between life and death.
It is advisable to ensure that the alarms you install are audible throughout the entire property and are positioned so as to maximise their capacity to pick up smoke.
An interconnected fire alarm system featuring long-lasting or mains alarms is recommended.
You are obliged to ensure that the alarms are in proper working order at the start of each new tenancy. However, you are not responsible for testing the alarms during the tenancy.
For their own safety, your tenants should check the alarms at least once each month and replace the batteries once or twice a year, if the alarms are battery-powered. They should report any issues with the equipment to you or to your letting agent as soon as possible.
Long leases or tenancies granting occupation for seven or more years, and accommodation shared with you, the landlord, are exempt from the regulations.
Fire alarms in rental properties – houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)
The fire safety regulations are more stringent for HMOs as studies have demonstrated that the risks are greater when unrelated people live together. HMO fire regulations vary from one local authority to another. This means that it is essential to check the rules in your area. However, at a minimum, an HMO of one or two storeys will require an appropriate mains-powered interconnected smoke alarm system, plus an additional interlinked heat alarm with integral battery back-up, located in the kitchen. HMOs of three or more storeys should be fitted with a mains-powered system with a central panel and the aforementioned heat alarm in the kitchen.
A fire risk assessment must also be carried out in the communal parts of HMO. If you do not feel qualified to perform this, engage a professional to conduct the assessment for you.
Carbon Monoxide detectors
In all residential rental properties, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in all rooms which feature a solid fuel appliance. It would be advisable to install detectors in your property, even if there are no solid fuel appliances installed.
Going the extra mile
In order to properly protect your tenants and your property, you should consider the safety standards required by law to be the minimum that you achieve. Conduct your own risk assessments or engage an expert to do this for you and then go the extra mile with your smoke detectors, fire alarm system and carbon monoxide detectors. Don’t wait for a tragedy to occur, act now!