Responsibility for fire safety
If you rent your home, your landlord should make sure your home meets certain fire safety obligations. This includes ensuring there are no fire hazards in your home. If you live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO), your landlord also has extra responsibilities.
Landlords have certain fire safety obligations, including:
Your landlord should make sure there are no hazards in your home, including fire hazards. Potential hazards can be assessed by your local council, using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
Your landlord is required to ensure:
- that electrical installations in the property are safe when your tenancy begins
- that electrical installations are maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy
- that any appliance provided is safe and has the British Safety Standard sign.
Find out more about electrical safety in the home.
Your landlord must make sure that the gas supply and appliances in your home:
- are in a safe condition
- are fitted or repaired by a Gas Safe registered engineer
- have a gas safety check every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer
Find out more about gas safety in the home.
Any upholstered furniture provided by your landlord should be fire resistant. This includes:
- sofas and armchairs
- beds, headboards and mattresses
There should be a symbol on your furniture to state that it is fire resistant. If they are not and your landlord won’t replace them, get in touch with your local council or trading standards office. They can take action against your landlord.
You are responsible for the condition of your own furniture.
Carbon monoxide detectors
If you have a coal or wood fire in your rented home, your landlord must fit a carbon monoxide detector.
If your private landlord is licensed under the Rent Smart Wales scheme, they should follow a Code of Practice. This recommends that landlords should fit at least one smoke alarm on each floor of the property.
You are responsible for checking the alarm works after you move in. If an alarm stops working, check if it needs new batteries or contact the landlord to arrange a replacement alarm.
You should allow your landlord access to your home to fit or repair smoke alarms.
Most council and housing association landlords also fit smoke alarms in their properties.
HMOs and fire safety
You may be protected by extra fire safety laws if you live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO). An HMO could be:
- a hostel
- a house split into separate bed sits
- a house or flat share, where people have separate tenancy agreements
- a bed and breakfast or hotel which is not just for holidays.
HMO landlords have to ensure there are adequate fire precautions (including alarms, extinguishers and fire blankets) and fire escape routes. There should be at least one fire extinguisher on each floor and a fire blanket in every shared kitchen. These have to be checked periodically and the correct sort of extinguisher must be provided. It’s up to you to make sure you know how to use the fire blanket and fire extinguisher in an emergency.
Means of escape
HMOs should have an escape route that can resist fire, smoke and fumes long enough for everyone to leave (usually at least 30 minutes). This could be an external fire escape, or internal stairs, corridors or walkways that are specially constructed or treated to resist fire. All the walls, ceilings, floors and partitions along the escape route must be fire resistant. All the doors leading to the escape route must be fire resistant and must close automatically.
What can I do if my landlord doesn’t comply?
If you don’t think your rented accommodation is fire safe, your first step should always be to try negotiating with your landlord. They may be prepared to provide you with fire safety precautions, such as a smoke alarm, fire extinguisher, or carbon monoxide detector if you request them.
If they still don’t do anything, contact your local council’s environmental health department. If their inspection finds a fire hazard, the council can take action against your landlord. The council can:
- write to the landlord or managing agent, setting out what needs to be done
- serve a legal notice telling the landlord or manager that they must do certain things
- arrange to carry out any necessary repairs and then get the money back from the landlord.
In some circumstances, they may even prosecute the landlord.
If your landlord has a licence in Wales then contact Rent Smart Wales who can investigate and, in some circumstances, revoke their licence.
If your landlord won’t carry out gas safety checks you can complain to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Where can I get more information?
If you are injured in a fire or your property is damaged, you may have the right to take legal action against your landlord, or anyone directly responsible for negligent work. Bear in mind that there are time limits – for example, if you want to sue your landlord for negligence, you must start the action within three years of being injured. Get advice if you are in this situation.
If you have lost your home in a fire, you should contact your local council and ask to make a homelessness application. You should be considered homeless and entitled, at the very least, to emergency housing. If you are made homeless as a result of a fire, you will be in priority need.