Fire Safety for Landlords
This document contains guidance for landlords and fire safety enforcement officers in both local housing authorities (LHAs) and in fire and rescue authorities (FRAs) on how to ensure adequate fire safety in certain types of residential accommodation. It offers practical advice on fire risk assessment and contains case studies with suggested fire safety solutions. Where necessary, advice on enforcement matters can be sought from the LHA, FRA or appropriate landlord associations. The content of this document is intended as guidance only. Definitive interpretation of the legislative requirements can only be made by the relevant court or tribunal. The guidance applies to England, but Welsh statutory requirements are very similar and so the general guidance on fire risk assessment may also be relevant in Wales.
This guidance does not introduce new standards or regulations but builds upon existing good practice and guidance currently in place around the country. It aims to provide landlords and enforcing officers with assistance in complying with the legislative requirements in a consistent and reasonable manner.
This document does not set prescriptive standards but provides recommendations and guidance for use when assessing the adequacy of fire precautions in these types of premises. Alternative fire risk assessment methods may be equally valid in order to comply with fire safety law, and alternative approaches to individual fire safety solutions may be acceptable.
The Housing Act 2004 brought in a new system of regulation for fire safety in existing residential premises by way of the housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS), licensing provisions for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and management regulations for HMOs. In practice the HHSRS is the principal tool used to assess and regulate fire safety standards, but HMO licensing conditions will reflect HHSRS assessments. The responsible person for the purposes of fire safety provision and maintenance at the residential accommodation is the person having control – usually the landlord, or alternatively in HMOs the manager. Previous fire safety guidance for HMOs contained in the Department of Environment Circular 12/92 has been withdrawn.
Alongside the Housing Act 2004, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) introduced duties in relation to fire safety in the common areas of HMOs note 1, flats, maisonettes and sheltered accommodation in which personal care is not provided. The duty is placed on the responsible person, who is required to carry out a fire risk assessment and take specific action to minimise the risk of fire in the common parts. ‘Responsible person’ means “the person who has control of the premises in connection with the carrying on of a trade, business or other undertaking”. In practice this will usually be the landlord, but in the case of absentee landlords where the “carrying on of the business” is undertaken by a managing agent it may be the managing agent. These provisions are enforced by fire and rescue authorities.