As the population continues to grow in our major cities, and more people find themselves living in high rise buildings and houses of multiple occupation (HMOs), the need for resilient fire safety and emergency strategies has never been more important.
If nothing else, the recent tragedy of Grenfell Tower has taught us that there are huge consequences to pay when we don’t plan for and protect ourselves against the possibility of disastrous eventualities that result in the harm of individuals and serious damage to property.
Today’s attitude to health and safety regulations must be one of proactive and preventative measures, rather than reactive responses to failure. As a managing agent or a landlord, it’s on you to understand your responsibilities and take action to protect your tenants and your property from harm.
As the owner or managing agent of an HMO, it’s your responsibility to ensure your building meets the appropriate fire and emergency safety regulations. This includes the regular testing of fire alarms and emergency lighting.
While most buildings are fitted with smoke alarms on each floor, the fact that they exist is not enough. Fire detectors must be in full working order at the start of each tenancy.
The Regulatory Reform Order 2005 establishes a person’s responsibility to undertake a fire risk assessment, to assess any fire hazards within a building. This includes providing routes of escape, fire safety equipment such as working smoke alarms and emergency lighting, as well as taking care to avoid any furniture and fitting placements that may create a fire hazard.
If the person responsible is unable to take these necessary steps to reduce fire risks and ensure all fire safety equipment is maintained regularly, they should employ a qualified contractor who can perform scheduled checks on their behalf.
According to the Housing Act 2004, landlords must ensure that tenants can escape easily from the property in the case of a fire. This might require the repair or refitting of the ‘fabric’ of the property such as doors and ceilings to ensure fire can’t spread easily between rooms.
If you’re unsure about any of the government’s current regulations, make sure you seek guidance from the Landlords Association or consult a professional contractor who can walk you through the process.
Gas and electric
Landlords have a legal duty to annually arrange a gas supply and appliances check by a gas safe engineer. It is also required that any electrical installation, home wiring and appliances provided to the household are safe to use throughout the tenancy. This includes all sockets, light fittings and appliances such as kettles, microwaves and cookers.
One of the best ways to ensure this is performed effectively is to employ fully qualified electrical technicians, or property maintenance services to handle such tasks and provide electrical compliance certificates.
When choosing a registered electrician to maintain the safety standards of your property, you can rest assured that work is carried out according to government laws and to the BS7671 safety standard. Insurance for any work done will also help you conform to your responsibilities as a landlord.
Reactive vs proactive
Reactive maintenance is usually initiated by failure, resulting from a lack of preventive measures. The key to providing effective health and safety standards for all residential properties is to use proactive maintenance checks that assess the likelihood of something going wrong.
Simply waiting for problems to occur is the worst approach you can take. Proactive maintenance also keeps buildings serviced and in good working order throughout the year, avoiding the need for replacement or substantial repairs that will cost you money.
Regular scheduled checks for fire safety equipment and emergency lighting by electric contractors or home maintenance services is the best way to preserve equipment and prevent the malfunction or failure of any equipment that could result in damage to health and property.
Bright’s safety recommendations:
- Use licensed electricians and gas safe engineers
- Conduct a visual inspection at the start of each new tenancy
- Conduct regular fire alarm and emergency lighting checks
- Regularly check the appliances and fixtures used in the property for safety
- Conduct periodic inspections on HMOs at least every 5 years
Regular checks and maintenance
With regular scheduled checks, you can make unexpected equipment failure and deterioration a thing of the past and the risk of disaster can be massively reduced.
If you’re unsure about the role you need to play in the proper maintenance of a residential space, make sure you take the time to understand your obligations as set out by government rules and regulations. In addition to knowing the current rules and regulations, you also should keep up to date with any changes that might take place to your property’s electrics and gas safety requirements.
While the arrangement of regular checks might seem inconvenient or a waste of money, the consequences of cutting corners can be monumental, and regular maintenance will more than likely save you money in the long term.
We believe that regular scheduled checks are the best way to pre-empt any potential electrical or gas malfunction and maintain a safe environment with working fire alarm and emergency lighting.
At Bright Contractors, we offer our clients peace of mind when it comes to securing safe residential spaces for your tenants, and avoiding any penalties that you might face as the owner or managing agent of a property.