As a landlord, if you let out property fully or partly furnished, then you must ensure that the furniture meets legal safety standards for fire resistance. The relevant regulations are contained in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 as amended by Regulations made in 1989 and 1993 and 2010. The laws were brought in to ensure that furniture will not produce fume-filled smoke if there is a fire in the property.
In this blog, we outline the responsibilities placed on landlords and discuss how the Regulations may affect them. It is not an authoritative interpretation of the Regulations and does not cover all of the details. You should refer to the Furniture Industry Research Association’s Guide to the UK Regulations for more detailed information. A copy can be found here;
The Regulations set the levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery. The key points to be considered are;
- The regulations apply to beds and mattresses, sofas and chairs, futons, sofa beds, cushions, pillows etc. They also apply to any garden furniture that could be used inside the property and any furniture for a nursery. The regulations also apply to any stretch covers used on furniture.
- The regulations do not apply to bed clothing, curtains and carpets.
- The regulations apply to any new and second hand furniture.
- The regulations do not apply to any furniture or upholstery that is owned or provided by the tenant.
- Any furniture covered by the regulations must be manufactured from fire resistant materials or otherwise treated with fire retardant coatings from the manufacturer.
- Upholstered items must have a filling which is fire resistant and meet the specified ignition requirements.
- All items must have one permanent manufacturers label which cannot be removed. If you rent out the property after the labels have been lost or removed, you should either have the furniture re-tested or replace it.
- All furnishings must pass the “match resilience” and “cigarette” tests.
- All mattresses and bed bases must have a label that shows that they meet British Standards 7177.
Consequences of non-compliance
Breach of the regulations is a criminal offence and landlords who do not comply with the regulations could face;
- Up to six months in prison.
- A fine of up to £5,000 per item of furniture that does not meet safety standards.
- A manslaughter charge in the event of a tenant death.
- Being sued for civil damages by a tenant.
- The insurance for the property can be rendered invalid.
Practical tips for landlords
Only buy furniture which has a label demonstrating compliance. New furniture should comply, but always check.
- If buying second hand furniture, ensure the furniture carries the correct labels.
- As part of the property inventory, take photographs of the labels evidencing compliance.
- If a label becomes detached, keep it in a safe place and provide the tenant with a copy.
- Consider renting your property unfurnished.
Important note for landlords – The above blog is provided for information purposes and guidance only and does not represent the full extent of legal obligations and duties placed on landlords. Landlords should seek appropriate advice and, where necessary, legal advice before renting property in the Private Rented Sector. The use of information provided in this blog is subject to the terms and conditions of use of our website.