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Fire door safety in HMO's and flats

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Did you know that it is Fire Door Safety Week from the 23rd until the 29th of September? If you are a landlord, therefore, it may come as a timely reminder to ensure that you have grasped the importance of fire doors and play your part in passing on that awareness to your tenants.

Your responsibilities

As a landlord of any type of let property – whether it is a single flat or a shared house in multiple occupation (HMO) – you have a fundamental duty to ensure the health and safety of your tenants.

Your specific responsibilities for fire safety are incorporated in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO). This makes it your statutory duty to ensure that a fire risk assessment has been carried out in all common areas of the flat, flats or HMO you may be letting to your tenants – and that risk assessment must include an examination of the state of the fire doors.

If you fail to comply with those duties as a landlord, you may face stiff financial penalties by way of fines. You might also be interested to know that more than half of all such fines are imposed on landlords of HMOs.

Fire doors

Fire doors are no ordinary doors. They are designed to arrest the spread of fire, so their composition and the way they are installed are critical – hence the role they play in your fire risk assessment.

In houses which have been converted into several flats, the entrance to each one is typically a fire door intended to delay the spread of flames and smoke from any fire in the common areas. But, depending on the results of your fire assessment, it may be necessary to fit internal fire doors too.

Each door is fire-rated – with FD30, for example, offering a fire resistance of up to 30 minutes, FD60 for 60 minutes, and so on. The relevant certification mark is typically found on the top of the door. You and your tenants are likely to spot them by the blue “fire door” or “keep closed” signs which may also be fixed to such doors.

Checking your fire doors

It’s all very well having fire doors fitted, but you must check that they remain in a good state of repair and continue to do the job for which they were intended.

Of course, you might check them visually yourself, but given their importance – and the risks to you as the landlord if you fail to spot inadequacies – it may be preferable to consult a professional to perform regular maintenance checks.

This helps to ensure that any damaged components are replaced only on a like-for-like basis and that the fire certification remains valid.

Fire doors in HMOs

Given the special nature of an HMO and its occupation by several different households who share essential facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens, fire doors are especially important. Therefore, you might want to read further the advice given by Fire Safe about the precautions required in this type of let accommodation.

Raising your tenants’ awareness

In conjunction with Fire Safety Week, there is a poster you may download to help raise the awareness of your tenants about the importance of fire doors.