The fire service report that there are more than 50,000 incidents of fire breaking out in a property and this results in around 300 fatalities and thousands of injuries to UK residents.
These statistics are particularly relevant to landlord and tenants, as the figures show that you are actually seven times more likely to have a fire if you are in rented accommodation as opposed to being an owner occupier.
If you are a landlord or tenant the statistics show that it would be advisable to understand rental property smoke alarm laws and how to reduce the risk of a fire starting.
There are two major pieces of legislation which cover fire safety in dwellings and they are the Housing Act 2004 (Housing Health and Safety Rating System) (Known as HHSRA) and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
As a landlord, you have a responsibility to adhere to fire safety legislation and keep your tenants as safe as possible from the prospect of a fire occurring. The Housing Act specifically identifies 29 different categories of potential hazards which include fire and aims to define how a residential property can provide a safe and healthy environment for its occupants.
With regard to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order, the fundamental requirement set out in this document is that the landlord or appointed person who is responsible for a multi-occupied building must carry out and maintain an acceptable and sufficient fire risk assessment in communal areas and identify adequate fire precautions and the procedures that are need in order to ensure the safety of anyone in the building.
The other relevant legislation that relates to fire safety and landlords, is the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
Gas safety is of paramount importance and regular gas safety checks are needed to make sure that gas fittings and flues are maintained in a safe condition, so that tenants are not exposed to the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning and the risk of a fire developing.
If you are a tenant, you will obviously want to ensure that your landlord takes all the required steps to protect you in the property from the threat of fire and other dangers.
Basic fire prevention measures can make a substantial difference and in addition to asking the landlord to carry out the regular required checks, you can also ask to have smoke alarms fitted or arrange to put these in key areas of the house yourself, for a relatively nominal cost.
Steps you can take as a tenant whilst you are in the property include taking care when cooking with hot oil, exercising caution when using candles or with cigarettes, if there isn't a ban on smoking indoors, and closing internal doors at night.
Closing doors at night will help to isolate a fire more easily if there is an incident and could give you the vital extra time you need to get to safety if the fire is more contained. Also make sure you switch of any electrical appliances that are not in use, as this raises the risk of a fire as well as costing your more on your electricity bills.
If you share a house and it is classified as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) there are certain extra conditions that the landlord must meet to ensure fire safety standards are met.
One of these conditions is the need for an adequate means of escape and this will be determined by the size of the property. There also have to be smoke alarms fitted and fire extinguishing equipment also needs to be strategically placed around the property.
The law relating to multiple-occupancy properties requires the landlord to regularly maintain gas appliances and also maintain all electrical installations as well as any electrical appliances that they have supplied in the property.
It is also a requirement that any furniture and furnishings provided by the landlord in the property, meet the current fire safety regulations.
If you are a tenant and are concerned that these standards are not being met, you will need to raise your concerns with the landlord and if you don't get a satisfactory response, you have the option of complaining to your local housing authority who can advise you further.
Fire safety should be a primary consideration for landlords and tenants alike and while both parties have different sets of responsibilities, the ultimate goal remains the same, which is to stay safe and avoid a fire starting.
By Cherie A. Copper
Cherie is a real estate broker. She enjoys writing about anything related to property ownership. Her articles can be found on many property investing websites.