Fire safety advice for tenants

Find out what landlord should do to keep your rented home fire safe and what you can do if you are worried it's not.

Report a fire

Call the Fire Service on 999 to report a fire.

You can also call if you smell burning, but don't know where it's coming from.

Landlords responsibility for fire safety

Landlords are responsible for the safety of:

  • the electrical wiring and any electrical appliances they provide
  • the gas supply and any gas appliances they provide – they have a legal duty to have these checked each year by a gas safe engineer
  • any furniture they provide – upholstered furniture should usually be fire resistant

Landlords can be fined and sent to prison if they don't follow fire safety regulations.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

By 1st October 2015, all private landlords had to make sure that working smoke alarms were fitted on each floor of their rented properties.

After that they must make sure that the smoke alarms provided are in working order at the start of any new tenancy.

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.

If you have a coal or wood fire in your rented home, your landlord must fit a carbon monoxide detector.

Complain to the council about smoke alarms

You can complain to your council's environmental health department if your private landlord hasn't fitted a smoke alarm in your home or carbon monoxide detector if it's required.

The council can issue a notice telling your landlord to fit and test the alarms within 28 days.

If the landlord doesn't do this, the council can fine the landlord up to £5000 and arrange to fit the alarms itself.

Find out more about complaining to your council's environmental health department.

Electrical fire safety

Electricity is a major cause of accidental fires in the home. Contact your landlord if you're worried about:

  • the condition of wiring in your home
  • loose plugs on electrical items provided by the landlord
  • torn or fraying cables on kettles, toasters or other appliances provided by the landlord
  • sockets that do not work, have burn marks on them or feel hot

Find out more about electrical safety in the home.

Gas safety

Faulty gas appliances or pipework in your home can cause gas leaks and fire risks.

Contact your landlord if you're worried about gas cookers or fires, gas leaks or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Find out more about gas safety in the home.

Furniture fire safety

When you rent a furnished property, any upholstered furniture such as sofas, cushions and mattresses must meet fire safety standards.

Find out more about safety standards for furniture.

Complain to the council about fire safety

If you are worried about fire safety in your home, you can ask your local council to inspect your home for health and safety hazards.

You can complain to the council's environmental health inspector. If their inspection finds a fire risk, the council can take action against your landlord.

The council uses the Housing Health and Safety Rating System to assess if your home is unsafe.

Find out how to complain to environmental health.

Fire safety in shared homes

Shared houses that are licensed by the council as houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs) must have extra fire precaution equipment and facilities.

As a condition of their licence, landlords of HMOs can be required to have fire doors, protected escape routes, fire extinguishers or blankets.

Tenants in shared houses must also be given a copy of the latest electrician's inspection report.

After a fire

Contact your local council to make a homeless application if you can't live in your home after a fire and have nowhere to stay.

If the Fire Service tells you your home is safe to return to:

  • contact your landlord to arrange repairs
  • contact your insurance company to make a claim for your personal belongings
  • ask your landlord to arrange for gas, fire and electrical safety checks

Get advice if your home is too badly-damaged to live in but your landlord tells you must keep paying rent. Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre.

Find out more from about fire safety in the home.

Last updated 02 Dec 2015 | © Shelter

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