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Landlords – do you have to fit smoke alarms in your properties?

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All landlords have to fulfil certain legal obligations if they're to lease their property. Some of the most important legal requirements are those that cover basic safety practices and equipment. Keeping tenants safe should be a landlord's principal concern, so ensuring that these obligations are met is of the utmost importance. Here, Hannah Johnson Property Solicitor in our Conveyancing Department takes a look at what landlords have to do when it comes to fire, gas, and electrical safety and also detail the relevant UK legislation.

Relevant legislation

A landlord's legal safety obligations are legislated for by a wide array of governmental acts, orders, and regulations. For example, fire safety requirements are covered by The Housing Act 2004, Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 2010, The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.
It's also important to note that legislation differs across the UK. The obligations listed below are those for properties in England. Safety obligations in Scotland are often more extensive and anyone looking for the precise requirements for properties in Scotland will be able to find them online.

Fire safety

When it comes to fire safety, landlords have a number of legal responsibilities. These include:

  • At least one smoke alarm must be fitted on every storey of the building.
  • A carbon monoxide detector and alarm must be fitted in every room in which there's a solid fuel burning appliance.' This type of appliance includes wood burning stoves and coal fires, among other things.
  • Ensure residents have access to escape routes at all times.
  • Ensure that all furnishings, fittings, furniture provided by the landlord are fire safe.
  • Fit fire extinguishers and fire alarms if the property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

Gas safety

In terms of gas safety obligations, landlords must ensure that they follow the regulations;

  • Have all gas powered equipment and appliances installed and maintained by a fully certified, Gas Safe-registered engineer.
  • Have an annual inspection of gas equipment carried out by a Gas Safe-registered engineer.
  • Provide residents with a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in, or within 28 days of the check taking place.

When it comes to gas safety checks, the most important thing to remember is that all work must be carried out by a Gas Safe-registered engineer. If it is not, the landlord's legal obligations have not been fulfilled.

Electrical safety

Finally, electrical safety obligations are far more general and don't present landlords with too much of a problem. That being said, neither do they offer tenants particularly strong protections. The legal requirements in regard to electrical safety include;

  • Ensuring that the electrical system in the property is safe and fully functional. This means testing and securing light fittings, switches, and any other parts of the electrical system tenants have access to.
  • Ensuring all electrical items and appliances supplied by the landlord are safe. This includes larger appliances, like washing machines and dishwashers, as well as smaller items, such as kettles and toasters.

When it comes to rented property safety precautions, landlords are legally obliged to provide their tenants with basic safety measures. The fire, gas, and electrical obligations listed above represent the bare minimum a landlord needs to do in order to ensure their property is legally prepared for rental.

However, there is nothing preventing landlords from installing additional safety measures and equipment. This is an entirely personal decision and is by no means legally necessary. Despite there being no compulsion to do so, many landlords opt to install smoke detectors in every room. It is also common for multiple fire extinguishers to be placed throughout an HMO. Once you understand your basic responsibilities, it's up to you whether you provide tenants with additional protection.

Hannah Johnson

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