Living safely – Fire safety and security responsibilities for landlords

Jun 7, 2022 | Fire Safety

Living safely – Fire safety and security responsibilities for landlords

If you are the landlord of a dwelling, you have certain responsibilities that you must adhere to by law. So, what are you responsible for when it comes to the safety of your tenants?

Landlord Commercial Security Responsibilities

If you own rental property, safety can be a worrying business. You must meet the needs of legislation, local councils, your insurers, the expectations of your tenants, and seemingly a long list of other requirements. You also want to be able to rest easy knowing that your tenants, and your property, are safe.

The best way to approach fire safety and security for landlords is to start with your responsibilities. That way, you have ensured the basics are done and the boxes ticked. However, it is often the case that the basics do not fully cover your needs or those of your tenants. The following overview will give you a good starting point, but as different as every property is, so are the fire safety and security needs. That’s why it’s best to arrange a free no-obligation audit from a specialist (like us!). 

What you must do about fire safety and security as a landlord?

As with much safety legislation, there is an underlying principle that you can use as your baseline. In this case, the Government’s advice to tenants has a very clear statement which makes a good starting point. It tells tenants that a landlord must

“… keep the property you live in safe and free from health hazards.”

So, as the landlord, you will always have a guide if you approach your fire safety and security by using that as your baseline. 

Specific fire safety equipment for landlords 

As a landlord, you need to have the safety of the residents as a priority and ensure you are also meeting the needs of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. However, the fire safety equipment required will vary based on the size of the property, the needs of the building and its residents. 

As you can imagine, a multi-occupancy, reasonably new, sheltered housing block has very different requirements from a converted older building used for general living. 

However, putting aside the question of local conditions, any multi-occupation building with common areas will almost certainly need to have some or all of the following: Landlord Fire Security Responsibilities installing equipment

  • A fire risk assessment
  • Fire detection and warnings such as
    • Smoke detectors
    • Appropriate fire detection systems 
    • Alarms
    • Carbon monoxide detection
  • Appropriate signs and notices
  • Appropriate escape routes
  • Emergency lighting 
  • Firefighting equipment and other items suitable for the environment, such as:
    • Extinguishers
    • Fire Blankets
    • Fire doors
  • Regular checks and tests of equipment and processes

You should also account for anyone with special requirements or perhaps even have a refuge point in larger buildings. 

Once you are past the level of basic fire safety, you also need to think about property damage and your resilience should anything happen. Fire alarms and other systems should also be about protecting your financial interests as well as the residents. That’s why most landlords choose to go beyond the minimum. We usually find ourselves designing a fire safety system that ensures rapid response and minimum damage should the worst happen. 

The final consideration with fire safety in rental properties is regular maintenance and equipment checks. While tenants may regularly test alarms, landlords must test alarms, at the very least, annually. Further, it’s not uncommon for older equipment to no longer comply with the latest regulations, so it’s advisable to periodically have your systems audited by an expert. 

Security concerns.

Things get a little more complex here because you need to decide what ‘safe’ means to you and your tenants. With multi-occupancy houses, the common areas and grounds can be a worry from a security point of view. It is often the case that landlords opt for access control and CCTV to give an added level of security for the residents and property. 

As far as the law is concerned, it is perfectly reasonable to have CCTV coverage of general use areas and the grounds as long as it is not intrusive and does not invade the residents’ privacy. As a minimum, you may want to consider cameras on the outside of the building and the entrance and other easy-access areas.

Landlord commercial security planYour CCTV and access control should also be designed to ensure the building is only available to the residents. Car parks can be covered by CCTV and given barrier or gated access, while swipe cards, RFD fobs, and biometrics will protect the main entrance for casual entry. Intercoms and video links can help residents identify if a visitor is a legitimate caller. The more integrated your systems, the better you will be protected.

Your tenants’ security and fire safety is a legal requirement, and we always suggest you take appropriate advice if you are unsure of your responsibilities. The best advice, though, is to exceed the minimum where possible. When it comes to the safety of your tenants and property, it seems prudent to be as protected as is achievable rather than have just done the minimum.

If you’re a landlord or private tenant and you’d like to learn more about installing a security system within your property, contact us today and we’d be happy to help.