fire risk assessments for landlords and tenants

What is a Fire Risk Assessment and How Does it Help Landlords and Tenants?

As a landlord, it is crucial to ensure the safety of your tenants by taking the necessary measures to minimize the risk of fire in your rental property. A fire risk assessment is an essential tool to determine what needs to be done to protect your tenants, their possessions and the building.

What is a fire risk assessment?

A fire risk assessment is a thorough examination of a rental property that aims to identify and evaluate potential fire hazards and determine necessary actions to reduce the risk of fire and ensure the safe evacuation of tenants. The assessment includes a review of various factors such as: the placement and functionality of smoke detectors, fire blankets, and extinguishers; the accessibility and adequacy of escape routes; the fire resistance of doors; and potential fire hazards within the property, such as flammable furniture and combustible storage. It is a legal requirement for all rental properties with communal areas to have a fire risk assessment completed, and if there are five or more tenants living in the property, the assessment must be documented in writing.

Which rental properties need a fire risk assessment?

Properties that are registered as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) are required to have a fire risk assessment in place. This is because HMOs present a higher fire risk and the tenants are less likely to know each other, which can impede their ability to assist one another in an emergency. Additionally, rental properties that are not classified as a “single private dwelling” (such as a property rented by a family or group of friends) and have communal living spaces like a living room or kitchen, are also required to have a fire risk assessment. This is to ensure the safety of the tenants and to comply with legal regulations.

Are fire risk assessments a law required for flats?

according to the law, all blocks of flats must have a fire risk assessment. The assessment is necessary for ensuring the safety of the residents and the building in case of fire. If the flat has more than four residents at any one time, it is mandatory to have a written record of the fire risk assessment. However, even if the flat has less than four residents, it is still recommended to have the fire risk assessment recorded in writing. Each block of flats must have a designated ‘responsible person’ who is accountable for fire safety. It is the responsibility of this person to ensure that a valid fire risk assessment is carried out, and that common areas such as stairwells and corridors are kept safe.

Does a HMO need a fire risk assessment?

Yes, if you own an HMO, you are required to take additional fire safety precautions. This may include installing fire extinguishers on each floor in common areas, and emergency lighting for buildings larger than two stories. However, regulations may vary by location, so it is recommended to check with your local council for specific requirements. When applying for an HMO license with your local council, you will need to provide evidence of a recent fire risk assessment. As for how often you should conduct a fire risk assessment, it’s recommended that you review and update your fire risk assessment at least annually, or whenever there is a significant change to the property or occupancy, and also if the local fire brigade or the enforcing authority request it.

Is your Fire Risk Assessment up to date? 

You are reminded that the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 has been amended by the Fire Safety Act 2021 and as such we advise that you ensure your fire risk assessment is up to date.

How often do I have to get a fire risk assessment carried out?

You should also review your fire risk assessment and fire escape route if your circumstances change.

 A fire risk assessment should be reviewed and updated at least annually or whenever there is a significant change to the property or occupancy, such as:

  • Moving around furniture
  • Changes to the property’s layout
  • Building an extension
  • A younger, older or disabled person moving into the property
  • There has been a fire
  • Fire safety equipment is stolen, replaced or damaged

What if I run an Airbnb?

If you operate an Airbnb, guest house, holiday home, or bed and breakfast, it is a legal requirement to have a fire risk assessment in place. As the owner, you will need to have an assessment carried out regularly, and make visitors aware of the proper procedures for exiting the property in case of fire.

Are tenants responsible for fire safety?

Yes, tenants have a responsibility to ensure that they don’t create fire hazards in the rental property, which can include actions such as blocking fire escape routes, smoking in the property, and using multiple extension cords (daisy-chaining). If a tenant observes something they believe to be a potential fire risk, they should know how to report it to the landlord, so the problem can be addressed. Additionally, tenants should be aware of the fire escape plan for the property. To ensure that tenants understand these responsibilities, we recommend including information on fire safety in the tenancy agreement.

Help with the assessment

You can do the fire risk assessment yourself with the help of standard fire safety risk assessment guides.

If you don’t have the expertise or time to do the fire risk assessment yourself, you need to appoint a “competent person,” for example, a professional risk assessor.

London City Fire UK Ltd has over 10 years of experience, and our assessors are registered as competent with the Institute of Fire Safety Managers. Call us to discuss your requirements or if you have any concerns regarding fire safety within your building. 

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