Councils are to get additional finance to tackle rogue landlords who are not taking the issue of fire safety seriously.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced the creation of a £3 million fund as it seeks to deal with the issue of irresponsible rental property owners. All local authorities will be able to apply for a portion of the money.
Landlords are responsible for keeping the properties they rent out safe and free from health hazards. This includes making sure fire risk assessments are up to date and any changes are made off the back of these investigations.
A small minority of property owners in the UK are failing to offer their tenants a safe environment to live in, potentially putting their lives at risk in the process. Poor quality, overcrowded and dangerous accommodation can lead to a number of issues, including noise problems, sanitation issues, a greater fire risk and anti-social behaviour.
Thanks to the new funding, however, councils will be able to improve their capacity to investigate the practices of rogue landlords and prosecute where necessary.
Both the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 cover this. They set out the guidelines on responsibility and landlords have to ensure there is a means of emergency escape - this is especially important if there is sleeping accommodation on the second and third floors.
On top of this, fire doors, emergency exits, passages and escape routes all need to comply with building regulations. As a minimum, property owners should also make sure they remove potentially dangerous appliances and fit smoke alarms. Fire extinguishers and kitchen fire blankets also represent wise precautionary measures. If these are provided, a system needs to be put in place where they are serviced regularly, which is typically once every 12 months.
Under the terms of a fire safety order, it is also a legal requirement to periodically review the fire risk assessment.