As a new landlord, you may not realise how many extra responsibilities you take on when letting your property out. It’s not as simple as making sure the property is in good condition, and collecting your rent payments. You also need to consider fire safety before you can rent the property out.
Remember that all landlords have a legal obligation to ensure fire safety in their properties. This includes ensuring there is a way for tenants to escape in case of fire. Furthermore, landlords of house in multiple occupation (HMO) properties and shared properties have to deal with other obligations, as outlined in the Housing Act 2004.
It’s a lot to take in, so here are some basic fire safety tips for new landlords.
Assess Every Property You Own
Carry out a full assessment of every property before you rent it out to anybody. Don’t just do it once either. Instead, carry it out whenever you change tenants so you can account for any changes.
The assessment should help you to point out potential fire hazards, with a focus on how those hazards could negatively affect your building and the people living inside it. It will measure risk, and offer suggestions for control methods that you can use to mitigate the risk. Have a professional carry it out, as you may miss something if you do it yourself.
Use these assessments to check every electrical installation and appliance in the property too.
Fitting Smoke Detectors
A single fire detector isn’t always enough. You’re legally obligated to place a detector on every floor that can accommodate living. You can choose between mains powered and battery operated detectors. However, each has their issues. The latter need replacement batteries, which tenants won’t always provide, while the former become useless if the power goes out.
This reinforces the need to check your smoke detectors regularly. Furthermore, install carbon monoxide detectors in any room that contains an appliance that burns solid fuels.
Fit Self-Closing Doors
Doors can contain fires, preventing them from spreading to rooms and staircases. However, tenants may not close doors in the panic of escaping a fire.
You get rid of this issue if you fit self-closing doors. These contain fires, giving tenants more time to escape.
Check Your Outside-Facing Doors
You need to offer tenants an easy way to open outside-facing doors from the inside. Spare keys can get lost, and your tenant’s keys may be left behind in the panic to escape the fire.
Fit a thumb-turn lock on the inside of any outside-facing doors. This keeps the door secure, and makes it easier to open in emergency situations.
Provide Fire Safety Equipment
Most landlords ban smoking in their properties, both to keep the properties clean and to lower the risk of fire. However, many fail to provide fire safety equipment. Consider placing a small extinguisher and a fire blanket somewhere inside the property. Your tenants may find this equipment invaluable if things go wrong.
Speak to the fire safety officer to find out what you can and should provide in a shared or HMO property.