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Fire safety – making sure your tenants are safe

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

In the year ending June 2019, 215 people lost their lives due to house fires – including tenants in rented homes.

In response to this the Home Office has re-launched its fire safety campaign – including information and advice for landlords and tenants.

Landlords’ obligations

As a landlord you must:

  • make sure all gas and electric appliances are safe and in good working order. 
  • ensure the property has at least one smoke alarm on every level of the property used as living accommodation. 
  • have gas appliances checked by a Gas Safe registered gas fitter every year
  • Only supply electrical appliances with the British Safety Standard sign. 
  • ensure furnishings are fire resistant and meet safety regulations. 
  • show tenants safety certificates outlining when gas and electrical appliances were last checked
  • Ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is present in all rooms that contain a solid fuel burning appliance and are used as living accommodation. You must test these and the required smoke alarms on the first day of the tenancy.

New electrical safety standards

Faulty electrics cause about 4,000 fires in the home each year.

The government announced five-year safety checks will be mandatory for landlords for all new tenancies from July 1 this year.

This will be rolled out to all existing tenancies from April 2021.

The new regulations will requiring pre-tenancy and five yearly checks of all fixed appliances and wiring and landlords failing to comply with the new rules will face fines of up to £30,000.

House fires – the causes

Overloading electrical sockets, leaving pans on the hob unattended and putting electrical heaters too close to laundry are among the hazards flagged by the Home Office.

Home office advice     

The campaign is advising people to:

  • plan and practise how to escape in a fire and have a plan B
  • take care in the kitchen and never leave cooking unattended
  • avoid overloading plug sockets and adapters – watch out for loose wiring, scorch marks, and hot plugs and sockets
  • keep heaters clear from curtains and furniture and never use them to dry clothes
  • stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully

This is all advice that can also be passed to tenants.

More information

The RLA has a guide for landlords, giving an overview of fire safety legislation and guidance, as well as practical tips on keeping tenants safe.

It also runs two fire safety courses, classroom course Complete Fire Safety and eLearning course Foundation Fire Safety.

The government also has a leaflet on fire safety in shared or rented accommodation, which can be accessed here.

The RLA promotes #testittuesday, a social media campaign encouraging people to get into the habit of checking alarms once a week.

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Communications Manager for the RLA and award-winning Editor of RPI magazine. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.

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