Responsibilities for fire safety

  • If you rent your home it’s usually a legal requirment that your landlord has installed smoke alarms
  • If your landlord doesn’t comply with fire safety rules it might be more difficult for them to evict you 

Responsibility for fire safety 

If you rent your home and have a secure or standard occupation contract, 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. 

Landlord’s responsibilities 

Landlords have certain fire safety obligations, including: 

Hazards 

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). 

Electrical safety 

Your landlord is required to ensure: 

  • that the electrical installation in your home are tested every five years 
  • that you are provided with the electrical condition report with 14 days of your occupation contract starting 
  • that electrical installations in the property are safe when your occupation contract begins 
  • that electrical installations are maintained in a safe condition throughout your contract 
  • that any appliance provided is safe and has the British Safety Standard sign. 

Find out more about electrical safety in the home here.

Gas safety

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 
  • that you are provided with the gas safety report with 14 days of your occupation contract starting 

Carbon monoxide detectors

Your landlord must also provide carbon monoxide detectors where there are gas appliances, coal or wood fires in your home. 

Find out more about gas safety in the home. 

Smoke alarms 

Your landlord must ensure that there are mains-connected smoke alarms on each floor of your home. Each alarm must be connected to the others, so if one smoke alarm is activated all the smoke alarms in your home will be activated.

If you moved into your home before 1 December 2022, your landlord must install smoke alarms by 1 December 2023. 

If your landlord has failed to comply with the above requirements, your home may be unfit to live in. Find out what this means and what you can do here 

Restrictions on eviction if your landlord doesn’t install smoke alarms

If your landlord has not installed smoke alarms then they may not be able to give you a ‘no fault’ eviction notice. Find out more in our Eviction pages.

If you have received notice from your landlord, get help urgently.

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.
  • a bed and breakfast or hotel which is not just for holidays. 

Fire precautions 

In addition to the requirements above, 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. 

Communal areas in blocks of flats and some HMOs 

If you rent or own self-contained accommodation in a block or if you rent a bedroom in an HMO, then a fire risk assessment must be carried out by the ‘responsible person’. This is usually the landlord, managing agent or owner, but could be an employer if you or other people work in the building. The risk assessment doesn’t cover inside your home but should include the communal areas of the building. It should: 

  • pay particular attention to residents with increased risk (e.g. disabled people)  
  • ensure that emergency escape routes and exits are adequate and kept clear  
  • assess the risk relating to the structure, windows and external walls of the building, including anything attached such as cladding and balconies  
  • assess the risk related to doors from communal areas in the building into your home (I.e. the flat or bedroom door)  

The law requires that the ‘responsible person’ provides information to residents, including the fire risks identified by the assessment and any measures taken to prevent or protect residents e.g. emergency escape routes. 

If you live in these types of accommodation but haven’t received this information, contact your local council or fire and rescue service.

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).

What about furniture? 

Any upholstered furniture provided by your landlord should be fire resistant. This includes: 

  • sofas and armchairs 
  • beds, headboards and mattresses 
  • cushions. 

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. 

Where can I get more information? 

Find out more from Gov.uk or the Fire Service about fire safety in the home. 

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 help 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. 

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Rydym yn ymddiheuro na fedrwn ddarparu’r wybodaeth yma yn Gymraeg, ond os hoffech siarad ag ymgynghorydd yn Gymraeg yna cysylltwch ar 08000 495 495.
We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

This page was last updated on: December 7, 2023

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.