NLA roundtable to update fire safety guidance for landlords
On 30 July the NLA convened representatives from the fire service, local and central government, and the housing sector to discuss updating the existing fire safety guidance for residential accommodation, commonly known as the LACORS guidance.
The LACORS guidance on fire safety is an important tool in ensuring that residential buildings are safe. The group agreed that an update would help manage new risks, as well as ensure the guidance reflects new legislation and recommendations that have been introduced since it was last reviewed in 2009.
The group will be looking over the guidance over the next few months, in order to assess how much the document needs to be updated or revised. We will be reconvening the group in late 2019 to consider the proposed changes and decide on next steps and will keep members updated via the newsletter and UK Landlord magazine.
Landlords’ fire safety responsibilities
As a landlord, fire safety in your rental property is critical. It is your responsibility to inform yourself of all fire safety regulations and follow them diligently.
The NLA Fire Safety Logbook (England and Wales) has been developed to help you keep a record of important fire safety risks and precaution in one place. Members can access this FREE logbook online at landlords.org.uk/firesafety.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
Landlords must ensure that they provide:
A smoke alarm on each storey of the premises where a room is used as living accommodation – either wholly or in part; and
A carbon monoxide alarm in any room of the premises which is used as living accommodation – either wholly or in part – and which contains a solid fuel combustion appliance (e.g. coal or wood).
It’s best practice to also include a carbon monoxide alarm even when solid fuel is not used e.g. oil and gas appliances.
Landlords must make sure that the alarms are working correctly at the start of each new tenancy. It’s a good idea to recommend your tenants test alarms monthly to ensure they remain in working order – and contact you to replace units or batteries if they are not.
The NLA recommend that all landlords keep a record of smoke alarm tests. In this way, should the need arise, you will be able to clearly demonstrate to regulators and enforcers the measures you have taken to adhere to the Fire Safety Regulations for landlords by mitigating and controlling fire risks within your properties.
Where fire doors are required, it is recommended that good quality certificated fire doors are fitted to keep a fire adequately contained and to minimise the spread of fire and smoke inhalation to tenants as well as reducing any damage to the property.
It is also vital that landlords inform their tenants of the fire safety measures and ensure they adhere to them. Tenants need to know that obstructing or propping open fire doors, especially in communal areas, could jeopardise their own safety
In most properties, there is no specific regulation in place requiring landlords to provide tenants with a secondary exit in the event of a fire. Landlords are however expected to mitigate the risk of fire, and that suggests making front doors fire retardant.
Landlords must do everything they can to protect their property and tenants. Landlords of HMOs must meet specific requirements, depending on the size of the HMO. This includes:
Keeping all exits clear from obstructions
Clearly marking fire exits and ensuring ‘In Case of Fire’ instructions are clearly available to tenants, ideally displayed on the wall in a communal area
Making sure you have annual gas-safety checks
Having the electrics checked at least once every five years.
NLA members can access a wide range of resources to support them in fulfilling their fire safety responsibilities from our online library. These include: NLA videos on fire safety for landlords, NLA Fire Safety Logbook, LACORS guidance and clarification document 2009 and the LGA Fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats.
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