It’s not only gas and electrical appliances that must be maintained and kept safe for your tenants; there are also regulations on the types of furniture and furnishings that you are allowed to supply in a rented property.
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988
The laws protecting fire and furniture safety were brought in to make sure that any furniture and furnishings supplied in a property that is rented out are fire resistant and that they won’t produce fume-filled smoke if there is a fire in the property. Sometimes, furniture also has to pass a test for match and cigarette resistance.
All furniture or furnishings that you supply with a furnished house when you let it out have to be clearly marked with a label showing that they meet all of the necessary standards. All new furniture that is subject to the law should come with a label already attached, but over time, safety labels can be lost, removed or damaged. It doesn’t matter if they originally complied or not, you must be able to demonstrate this with the safety label. If you rent out the property after the labels have been lost, you should either have the furniture re-tested or replace it.
(Your managing agent will have further advise on what to do if you lose the tags from your furniture)
What Are the Prescribed Items?
The regulations apply to:
- Arm chairs, three piece suites, sofas, sofa beds, futons and other convertible furniture.
- Beds, bases and head boards, mattresses, divans and pillows.
- Nursery furniture
- Garden furniture which could be used indoors
- Loose, stretch and fitted covers for furniture, scatter cushions, seat pads and pillows.
The regulations do not currently apply to:
- Antique furniture or furniture manufactured before 1950
- Bed clothes and duvets
- Loose mattress covers
- Sleeping bags
What Should a Landlord Do?
Failing to comply with the regulations is a criminal offence. If convicted you could receive a fine of £5,000 for every item that doesn’t comply, six months imprisonment and even manslaughter charges if a death results. You could be sued by the tenant for damages, and your insurance may be invalidated.
If your tenant complains, or worse if there is a fire and an issue is raised about the compliance of the furniture with the regulations, you can defend any claims that are made against you by the defence of “due diligence” – which means that under the circumstances, you took all reasonable steps to avoid committing an offence . To be able to use this as a defence you’ll need to have evidence showing what you did and the steps you took.A private owner letting out their own home could use this as a defence but a letting agent would not be able to claim the same thing as they would be acting in the course of a business.
Please do not hesitate to contact us on our below details should you have any queries on compliance to fire safety.