Posts with tag: fire safety

Campaign launched to prepare for new heat and smoke alarm standards in Scotland

Published On: October 5, 2021 at 9:25 am


Categories: Law News,Property News

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A new public safety campaign has been launched to help raise awareness of new heat and smoke alarm regulations coming into force across Scotland in February 2022.

Electrical trade body SELECT has produced a video to clarify what homeowners and landlords need to do to comply, in line with Scottish Government guidance.

Campaign launched to prepare for new heat and smoke alarm standards in Scotland

Iain Mason, Director of Membership & Communication at SELECT, comments: “Serving the public interest is at the heart of every professional organisation’s mission and SELECT is proud to lead the way.

“We hope the impact of this animation and other material will be to help as many people as possible get ready and comply with the new regulations before the implementation date.”

The organisation is encouraging its business members to use and share the range of resources to familiarise themselves with the new rules and help educate the public.

Bob Cairney, Director of Technical Services at SELECT, said: “Our main aim is to help the public understand what they need to do, clearly and concisely, and where to go for help if they need it. This includes stressing the importance of using a qualified electrician to carry out the work.

“We also want to develop SELECT Members’ understanding of what is required by giving them the tools they need to help their customers.”

This new standard is applicable from 1st February 2022. It requires all homes in Scotland to have a smoke alarm on every storey, including hallways and landings. It also requires a smoke alarm in the most frequented part of the house, such as the lounge, a heat alarm in the kitchen, and a carbon monoxide alarm wherever there is a fuel burning appliance.

In addition, all the heat and smoke alarms must be interlinked, either mains-powered with battery back-up or be battery powered by a tamper-proof long-life battery to ensure there is an effective warning system to keep everyone and their property safe. Those with mains-powered alarms or homeowners who cannot fit the battery-powered alarms themselves are being urged to use a qualified electrician.

How technology is helping improve fire safety in rented homes

Published On: February 27, 2020 at 9:14 am


Categories: Law News

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Fire safety is an ever-important issue when it comes to housing, even more so since the incident of Grenfell Tower. Tracie Williams, Managing Director of Evident Software, has highlighted how technology is helping residents hold landlords accountable over fire safety concerns.

What recent cases have occurred regarding fire safety in UK rented homes?

“Whilst Grenfell caused many landlords to leap into action and raised the profile of residents’ concerns, has this just led to lip-service or has the disaster affected real change in the industry?” says Williams.

How technology is giving residents back control

“Whilst it’s clear that there is still a long way to go, the good news is that the balance of power between tenants and landlords is already shifting,” Williams says.

  • Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has this year announced new measures to improve building safety, stating that the current pace is too slow and will not be tolerated.
  • The first Grenfell Tower Inquiry report published in October 2019 backed Dame Judith Hackitt’s call for a ‘golden thread’ of information around a building’s construction. This should be digitally maintained and records made available to residents. Tenants will then be able to see for themselves how equipment, such as fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, sprinklers and fire doors, are being maintained and that safety regulations are being adhered to.

Williams concludes: “Giving tenants the power to hold those in positions of responsibility to account, with technology, is the answer the industry and residents themselves have been searching for all these years.

“It is now the responsibility of the housing industry to innovate and ensure this technology is implemented across all large residential buildings so that data capturing, and tracking, is a seamless process. This will ensure tenants of all properties, not just high-rise tower blocks, that the spotlight is currently on, and they can feel safe and confident that their concerns will no longer go unheard. 

The days of tenants feeling like they don’t have a voice are over, but there is much more to be done to complete the shift in power, and equip residents with the information they need to hold landlords to account.”

What can landlords learn from Grenfell?

Published On: December 9, 2019 at 9:54 am


Categories: Landlord News

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The Grenfell Tower fire now happened two and a half years ago. It was the UK’s worst residential blaze since the Second World War and is currently being investigated on a number of fronts.

Strong themes are beginning to emerge, showing that lessons must be learned from this terrible incident. Landlords and building managers have a responsibility to protect their tenants

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, leader of the public inquiry into Grenfell, has outlined the failure of multiple parties, over a period of years, to comply with, or ensure continued compliance with building regulations and related safeguarding legislation. He concludes that this played a key role in the tragedy of Grenfell.

Furthermore, he states that there was a failure to learn from similar incidents that happened before Grenfell, for example, the fire at Lakanal House in 2009. 

The current parliamentary green paper on social housing, calls for landlords to provide safer, better quality social accommodation and to listen to their tenants’ views and concerns.

The Hackitt Report, published in May 2018 describes the building/social housing sector as having a ‘race to the bottom’ mentality. Whether this is due to ignorance, laziness or because the system discourages good practice is unknown but the fact is that current behaviour often puts lives at risk.

What can be done to change this?

Primarily, the Hackitt report calls for change. It focuses mostly on HMOs and high rise buildings, but in combination with the parliamentary green paper it is clear that those creating, or not alleviating risk will be held accountable across the rental sector. Landlords and housing providers must pay attention and act now. 

The Hackitt report recommends a very clear model of risk ownership which will hold everyone involved in building management to account, overseen by a new Joint Competent Authority. In the post-Grenfell era, building regulations enforcement will be tougher than ever.

Rather than being based on complex rules and guidance, Hackitt calls for an outcomes-based model of accountability that will apply to responsible parties throughout the lifetime of a building, and this is a crucial point.

In an outcomes-based system, responsible authorities such as landlords and housing associations have the freedom to innovate and look beyond current systems and traditional approaches. What matters is that buildings are protected from fire and residents protected from its dangers, full stop. The approach is not prescribed. 

In other words common sense must be applied. If something looks dangerous, then it is the landlord or building manager’s responsibility to fix or remove the problem regardless of whether it is specifically mentioned in any previous guidelines. If a tenant raises an issue regarding safety then it is your responsibility to investigate and deal with it. 

Everyone involved in housing provision must act in response to Grenfell. And it must never, ever, be allowed to happen again.

Fire Safety Knowledge Improves but More Needs to Be Done

Published On: September 27, 2018 at 8:05 am


Categories: Law News

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According to recent research, Fire safety knowledge in the private rental sector has improved over the past 12 months but there is still significant room for improvement.

A survey by Horbury Property Services, part of the Horbury Group, to mark Fire Door Safety Week, found that 57% of respondents have not been given any fire safety information by their landlord, with just a third – 33% – having only “basic information” and 14% thinking information they were given on fire safety to be good.

Despite this lack of information, the survey found that fire safety knowledge improved – 68% of those surveyed knew that a fire door should be inspected every six months, up from 40% of respondents a year ago.

General Manager at Horbury Property Services, Richard Sutton commented: “We run this survey every year, with a number of different questions, yet we are always surprised at the results.

“This year, it was noticeable how much people actually know about fire safety and fire doors, compared with previous years. However, we are concerned how many fire doors were being used incorrectly, for example, by being propped open, which would make them ineffective in the event of a fire. This may have been due to bad habits during the warmer weather but is something that should not be done with any fire door.”

When asked what would make them feel safer to prevent fires, the top answer (45%) was tighter Building Regulations on fire safety, the second most popular answer was fire sprinklers (36%) and thirdly, more regular fire door checks (18%).

Although the survey revealed some faults with how fire doors are used, those surveyed seemed to be fairly confident about the building they work or live in is fire safe.

Many people also acknowledged the fact that fire doors play an important role in ensuring compartmentation of a building, enabling occupants to escape or be safe in the event of a fire.

Sutton added: “It was also interesting to find out people’s thoughts about what would make them feel safer in their buildings, with such high numbers mentioning Building Regulations, fire sprinklers and greater checks on fire doors.

“This was a very positive survey and showed just how much landlords, contractors and the general public do know about fire doors.”

Fire Door Safety Week: Landlords Must Recognise Their Fire Safety Obligations

Published On: September 25, 2018 at 10:06 am


Categories: Landlord News

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Less than one in five BTL landlords have contacted with their tenants regarding basic fire safety precautions since the Grenfell Tower tragedy, according to a fresh report by Mcilroy Smith.

The research, released by the property consultancy in the run-up to Fire Door Safety Week – from September 24 to 30, found that a quarter of people feel more anxious about living in a flat since the fire in London last year.

Around 50% of those living in a flat do not feel fully prepared on what to do in the event of a fire in their building, which suggests that greater safety awareness is necessary.

Andrew Simmonds, managing director of Mcilroy Smith, said: “Many people living in apartments do not appear to be up to speed with basic fire safety measures and it is concerning to see contact between landlord and tenant on this key issue appears dangerously hit and miss.”

With fire doors becoming more common in private homes, and now required as part of building regulations in new builds of three storeys or more, Simmonds was keen to point out that the Fire Door Safety campaign aims to engage and educate building owners and building users on how to use them properly, and highlight the “dangers” of cutting corners on products and installation and of “neglecting maintenance”.

Are you Aware of your Current Fire Safety Responsibilities as a Landlord?

Published On: September 12, 2018 at 8:04 am


Categories: Landlord News,Law News

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With fire safe regulations in the private rental sector expected to change in due course, landlords are being reminded to ensure that they’re complying with their current fire safety responsibilities towards their tenants.

Following the recent Government-commissioned review into fire safety, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, which was conducted by Dame Judith Hackitt, it is predicted that the Government will introduce more stringent legislation to ensure that tenants have the highest level of protection possible in their homes.

Landlords may have to put more thorough safety measures in place and face harsher penalties if they fail to comply with the reforms.

Although the review concluded that the UK’s building regulations are not “fit for purpose” and leave room for fire safety “shortcuts”, we advise landlords to understand and comply with their current fire safety responsibilities, before any new rules are introduced.

Protect your tenants

All landlords should put their tenants’ health and safety first, which includes keeping the property protected against fire.

Research shows that those who live in rented or shared accommodation are seven times more likely to experience a fire in their homes than those who don’t. Landlords, therefore, must be aware of the dangers and be proactive in enforcing measures to prevent fires in their properties. This will also avoid you having to pay a hefty fine or face criminal proceedings.

Are you Aware of your Current Fire Safety Responsibilities as a Landlord?

Are you Aware of your Current Fire Safety Responsibilities as a Landlord?

Assess the risk

Understanding your fire safety responsibilities can be confusing, so it may be worth discussing your obligations with a professional and having a fire risk assessment carried out.

These reviews, which are conducted by experts, help you to put practical measures in place to reduce the risk of a fire and of a fire spreading if it does break out. Private rental sector regulations vary depending on the type of property you let, so an assessment will help to establish which laws are applicable to you.

Install alarms 

Following a consultation on property conditions in the private rental sector, legislation was introduced in 2015 that requires landlords to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, or face fines of up to £5,000.

Smoke alarms must be installed on every storey of your rental property, while a carbon monoxide detector must be fitted in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance, such as a coal fire or wood-burning stove. Alarms must also be tested at the beginning of every tenancy.

We have a comprehensive guide to help you understand your responsibilities surrounding alarms:

Electrical safety

Faulty electrics can be a leading cause of fires in private rental properties, resulting in 16% of all accidental fires in the home. To help prevent these risks in the future, the Government has backed the idea to make electrical safety checks a mandatory requirement in the private rental sector.

However, did you know that you’re already responsible for the safety of the appliances that you supply? As a landlord, you must ensure that appliances such as microwaves, kettles and toasters are regularly PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) tested. In addition, you must ensure that all sockets and light fittings are safe, as well as all wiring, fuses and circuit breakers.

Furniture and furnishings 

Every item of furniture that you, as the landlord, provide in a rental property must be fire resistant. This includes: sofas, beds, headboards, cushions, seat pads and any garden furniture that is used indoors.

If the furniture was bought from a reputable trader after 1988, it should be fire safe. To check, you should look for the permanent label on the item, which is likely stitched somewhere out of sight. The exceptions are mattresses, divans and bed bases, which are covered by British safety standard BS 7177; look out for this number.

Before any changes to your fire safety responsibilities are introduced, we urge you to understand and comply with the current rules. For a thorough look at your obligations as a landlord, read through our helpful guide: