Fire Safety for Landlords
The Home Office reported that in 2014/15 there were over 200 fire related fatalities and 7,500 casualties in England. Our partners, the British Woodworking Federation are promoting Fire Door Safety Week, 26 September – 2 October 2016, and to support this, we’ve put together a general introduction to fire safety for UK landlords.
Specialist insurance broker Towergate claims data reveals that in 2015, fire-related incidents were accountable for 3% of landlord insurance claims. In 2014 and 2015, at least 1 in 3 claims were caused by a neighbouring property and at least 1 in 10 claims were caused by an electrical fire.
Annie Plaskett, Towergate Property Division, said:
“As landlords are responsible for the safety of their tenants, it is important to have both the right insurance cover and the required preventative equipment for fire safety. Making sure you have working fire alarms in your property can be the difference between a small fire and potentially a no-claim situation, or an entire property burning down.”
“Given that the average claims pay-out for fire related claims is around £20,000 it really does pay to take as many precautionary measures as possible – and to make sure that you have the right insurance cover for your property.”
With £913pcm being the average rental value in the UK – almost £11,000 per year – the average insurance pay-out for fire related claims equates to around two years of rental income.
Fire Safety Tips for Landlords
The Home Office reports that fires where a smoke alarm was not present accounted for 35% of all dwelling fire fatalities in 2014/15, which means that over 90 lives could have potentially been saved, had a working smoke alarm been present.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
- Since 2015, landlords have been required by law to install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in their rental properties.
- Carbon monoxide alarms must be fitted in all rooms containing any appliance that burns or is designed to burn solid fuel.
- Smoke alarms must be fitted on every storey of the property which is used as living space (e.g. potentially not an attic, if it is not used as living space). These alarms should be tested regularly.
- All properties built after 1992 have been required to feature mains operated inter-connected smoke alarms on every level of the property.
- Failure to fit alarms can result in a civil penalty of up to £5,000.
- Gas safety checks must be carried out within 12 months of the installation of any new appliance or flue which you provide and annually by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.
- A record of each safety check must be filed for two years and a copy of this record must be issued to each tenant within 28 days of the check.
- The only time this rule does not apply, is if your tenant’s lease is for longer than seven years and is for life. However, as landlord, you are responsible for gas safety checks and maintenance.
- Any gas appliance that you own and provide for your tenant’s use is your legal responsibility.
- If a tenant has their own gas appliance that you have not provided, then you have responsibilities only for parts of the associated installation and pipework but not for the actual appliance.
- It is strongly recommended that you check that any engineer carrying out gas work is a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Electrical safety checks aren’t required as such, but there are certain precautions that landlords should take to protect their tenants and properties.
A tenant can reasonably expect for all electrical installations are kept in good working order by the landlord.
The landlord is potentially liable if a tenant suffers injury or death due to an electrical defect on work carried out on behalf of the landlord.
In a single household property, landlords are not required to provide fire extinguishers or fire blankets. However, landlords of HMOS (Houses in Multiple Occupancy), are required to provide fire blankets in all kitchen areas and at least one fire extinguisher for each storey of the property.
Hannah Mansell, from the British Woodworking Federation, added:
“If you find a fire in your home, of course you get out and stay out. Our research shows that many people would stop and try and find the cat – but you really are just best getting out straight away.”