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Landlords: Are your mattresses and couches lawful?

Recent BBC ‘Fake Britain’ exposition has shown that some major retailers are housing and selling products that fall short of the UK’s rigorous fire safety regulations for furniture. Landlords should take note to ensure they are fully protecting their properties and tenants from risk of fire.

Recent BBC ‘Fake Britain’ exposition has shown that some major retailers are housing and selling products that fall short of the UK’s rigorous fire safety regulations for furniture. Landlords should take note to ensure they are fully protecting their properties and tenants from risk of fire.

The Citizens Advice Bureau urges vigilance when purchasing upholstered furniture to ensure that the items meet fire resistant standards. These items could include sofas, beds, matresses, garden furniture, and cushion fillings.

It is a criminal offence for a furniture supplier not to meet the safety standards, but unfortunately some products get through testing and commercialisation.

Furniture and mattresses being imported from around the world may not stand up to stringent fire safe regulations designed to protect homes and occupiers. This is an undeniably important consideration for private landlords because of the responsibilities of providing tenants and properties with the best protection possible.

New furniture must be permanently labelled with a fire safety label general a large blue tag that can attest to it meets certain test criteria.

The standards come from the ‘Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations, which stipulate:

  • filling materials must meet certain standards so they don’t catch fire easily
  • upholstery must be cigarette resistant
  • covers must usually be match resistant
  • a permanent label must be fitted to every item of new furniture, with the exception of mattresses and bed bases. This is for enforcement officers to check a piece of furniture meets the regulations
  • a display label must be fitted to every item of new furniture at the point of sale, with the exception of mattresses, bed bases, pillows, scatter cushions, seat pads, loose covers sold separately from the furniture and stretch covers. This is to show the resistance of the furniture to igniting
  • suppliers of domestic upholstered furniture in the UK must maintain records for five years to prove their furniture meets the regulations.

The Fire Industry Research Association (FIRA) independently test furniture and upholstered products to ensure that standards are met recently. Recently they found that a number of products available from major chains (including Amazon, Argos, Homebase, Tesco Direct, SCS) failed to meet fire safety standards.

Need training? The RLA can help you

The RLA has a training course dedicated specifically to safety in privately rented accommodation. It covers fire safety in detail along with gas and electrical safety. They all overlap so it makes sense to cover all your bases.

Be sure that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities, RLA training courses highlight the basics and specifics of being a compliant, professional, and reputable landlord.

Otherwise every mattress should have a large blue ‘framed’ label sewn into the end wall. All upholstered furniture must also have fire safety labels. The label should read “complies with the furniture and furnishings (fire) (safety) regulations 1988” and/or “this item does not require a schedule 3 interliner”.

Keep your tenants, property and reputation safe. Register for training and make sure you are as complaint as possible. RLA training courses

Further Information

About the author

RLA

RLA

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) represents the interests of landlords in the private rented sector (PRS) across England and Wales. With over 23,000 subscribing members, and an additional 16,000 registered guests who engage regularly with the association, we are the leading voice of private landlords. Combined, they manage almost half a million properties.

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