Fire Safety for Tenants and Sharers

People who live in shared or rented accommodation are at seven times the risk of fire as those who own their own homes. Every year, around 200 people die in house fires, and personal injury solicitors frequently deal with serious compensation claims involving fire or burns.
Some of the main fire risks that people face include faulty electrics and candles.

According to government data, around 6,000 house fires are caused by faulty electrics every year, while candles cause over 1,000. While tenants and sharers will be responsible for the safety of their own candles, they may hold no responsibility for fires caused by electrics, and under UK personal injury law, their landlord may be liable for any damages and injuries these fires cause.

A landlord's fire safety obligations

People who intend to rent out their home must ensure that all electrical and gas appliances are safe and fit for use. They must also have all gas appliances checked by Gas Safe-registered engineers every year and show tenants the results of these tests. All electrical appliances provided by the landlord must meet British Safety Standards, and all furnishings should meet safety regulations and be fire-resistant.

While it is not a legal obligation as of yet, landlords are also strongly advised to fit carbon monoxide detectors in their home. This will protect their tenants from the risks of the odourless, flavourless gas.

Landlords who do not meet their obligations could one day find themselves dealing with personal injury compensation claims or worse. Tenants who are worried about the safety of their rented accommodation should speak to the Environmental Health Officer in their local authority or council for advice and assistance.

People who notice burn marks around cables and plugs, or other problems with the electricity, or who have concerns about the safety or utility of gas appliances, should speak to their landlord immediately. Landlords should be amenable and should fix these problems within a reasonable timeframe. Tenants should not attempt to repair these problems themselves.

Tenant's responsibilities

While landlords must ensure that their properties are safe to use, tenants must also take reasonable responsibility for their own health and safety and will not be able to claim personal injury compensation if they are responsible for their own injuries. Therefore, they must not overload plug sockets or put foreign plugs into British sockets without using adaptors. They must ensure that the home has a working smoke alarm and should test these every week.

Many fires are caused by tenant's irresponsible use of candles and cigarettes, and many preventable injuries are caused by obstructions in walkways or fire doors being left jammed open. Tenants should plan what to do in the event of a fire and should leave keys where they can be found, should not use candles or smoke cigarettes when drowsy, and should ensure these items are properly extinguished when not in use.

It is a good idea for every home to contain a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket. Tenants are responsible for ensuring their home has one, although landlords may want to provide these so they can protect their property investment.

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Geek, H. 2013, Fire Safety for Tenants and Sharers.

Tags: Accident At Work, Personal,

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