Safety responsibilities

This page provides information about the responsibilities of a landlord regarding safety in rented properties.

On this page:

Gas safety

Landlords are required to:

  • make sure gas equipment supplied is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer
  • have a registered engineer do an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue
  • provide a copy of the gas safety check record before tenants moves in, or within 28 days of the check

For more detailed information, visit this Health and Safety Executive guidance.

Electrical safety

As a landlord, you must ensure:

  • the electrical system is safe, for example sockets and light fittings
  • all appliances supplied are safe, for example cookers and kettles
  • every 5 years you carry out an electrical installation condition report (EICR), and this should be available to the tenant

The below video contains additional information about electrical safety in the home and what to do when there is an electrical fault.

Fire safety

Fire safety measures protect lives. They limit the damage caused to a property, the costs of clean-up, repair, and re-decoration.

The video below summarises measures which should be taken to minimise the risk of a fire igniting in your home. It also outlines the importance of creating a fire escape plan and information about fire and smoke alarms.

The following paragraphs outline some relevant issues and signpost you to information.

Legal requirements and guidance

The smoke alarm regulations state that smoke detection must be present on each storey of any rented property. This alone may be adequate for a low risk, single family house. It is not enough for an HMO where the risks from fire increase.

Housing Act 2004

Under the Housing Act 2004 a fire hazard can be identified, assessed, and a notice can be served requiring work to any property (or prohibit it’s use). The hazard is risk assessed using The Housing Health & Safety Rating System.

The risk assessment will decide what fire precautions should be put in place, with reference to the LACORS’ guide.

The LACORS’ guide explains, with examples, what fire safety precautions are suitable for different properties.

Fire safety in HMOs

In a HMO, the aim of fire safety measures is that an alarm system will quickly alert occupants to a fire that starts anywhere in the property. The occupants should then leave their accommodation, via a protected route, out to a place of safety.

The door to each person’s accommodation, or the kitchen/lounge, should automatically shut behind them as they leave, keeping any fire within the room in which it starts, and stopping it from spreading through the property.

This helps protect the lives of the occupants and the fire fighters who tackle the fire.

HMO management regulations

HMO management regulations require the maintenance of fire safety equipment and escape routes in HMOs. If you own/manage HMOs you should familiarise yourself with these regulations, which are available online:

For most HMOs the relevant management regulations are: The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006.

For certain self-contained flat conversions that did not meet relevant building regulations (“section 257 HMOs”) the relevant management regulations are: The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007.

Failure to follow this legislation risks criminal prosecution or a high civil financial penalty. Our Housing Standards enforcement policy has more information.

In HMOs, responsible management of fire safety measures is vital. Your routine inspections should include relevant checks.

Property owners and managers should talk through the fire safety precautions in their property when tenants move in. Tell tenants of their responsibility not to tamper with fire precautions, and to report any defects they notice.

During visits and inspections, try to see how tenants are using the property and look out for items brought in that might create risks.

There is an emerging issue around the charging of items such as e-bikes/e-scooters and vapes. If the lithium batteries used in such devices fail or become damaged, they can explode and very quickly cause a serious fire. If you notice such items in use in your HMO it would be good practice to give general information to your tenants to encourage safe use.

Such items should never be charged within the means of escape because a fire starting there could prevent people getting out safely. You must take suitable action if you see this happening.

There is information available, including videos showing the results of this type of fire. The National Fire Chiefs Council website has relevant advice.

Any electrical item can be the cause of fire if used in a careless or incorrect way. During your regular inspections look out for any electrical items in disrepair; overloading of electrical sockets; and misuse of electrical extension leads.

The Electrical Safety First website has lots of useful information on issues such as overloading of sockets. Including an easy to use socket calculator that tells you whether a multi-way extension lead is likely to be overloaded:

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

Enforced by the Fire Authority, this will apply to the common parts of HMOs. This places legal duties on anyone in control of a licensable HMO (the ‘Responsible Person’ – usually the owner). The Responsible Person must conduct a fire risk assessment, and put in place and maintain general fire precautions.

Note: the LACORS’ guide has information on this duty, and on doing your own fire risk assessment.

If a fire occurred in your property you may need to show your fire risk assessment and associated records of tests and checks if asked. It is very important that you do regular checks. Keep records of these, whether on paper or electronically, so that you can show your due diligence should the need arise. The need to do this is a condition of an HMO licence.

Planning and building regulations

You will also need to consider the legal requirements relating to Planning and Building Regulations if you are refurbishing an HMO, converting to an HMO, or building a new HMO.

Please see the planning pages on our website and/or the Planning Portal website for more information.

Contact the HMO Team

Appropriate fire safety measures for your HMO are described in the LACORS’ guide. We encourage you to read that guide and refer to it when fire safety queries arise.

If you cannot find the information you need within the LACORS’ guide, please email your query to the HMO team.

Building safety

The video below contains information on some common causes on accidents in the home, and advice on ensuring your property is safe.

The video below contains information about why people can trip and fall in the homes. It also explains what parts of the property it is essential to keep in good condition to avoid the common causes of trips and falls.

For more detailed information, visit landlord safety responsibilities.

Last updated on 29/05/2024