The Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations
The Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations have been in place for decades now, but new landlords, estate agents and letting agents aren’t always aware of the requirements and how they apply.
The Regulations apply to certain furniture and furnishings supplied in holiday homes and furnished lettings provided in the course of a business activity. Such furnishings must meet all fire resistance requirements outlined in the Regulations. The responsibility for ensuring compliance falls to the landlord, and in certain cases, to his/her agent.
Under normal circumstances, the landlord is the responsible party. Exceptions apply where a landlord lets the property for a one-off, short period of time. This occurs where a property owner may be away on business or temporarily reassigned.
A fuzzier area occurs when a landlord uses an estate or lettings agent to manage the property. Here, unique facts are determinative of responsibility. For instance, if the agent contracts with the landlord to find suitable tenants and collect rents, the agent likely does not qualify as the ‘supplier’ of the furnishings for the purposes of the Regulations. However, if the rental contract is between the tenant and the agent, or if the contract between agent and landlord specifies the agent’s duties include the supply or resupply of furnishings, then liability falls upon the agent.
Whilst the issue of liability rarely comes up, it is an area where landlords and agents should be wary. It only takes one fire and one piece of non-compliant furniture for the issue to explode. Be sure you have a complete inventory and full records for the purchase of all furnishings in each unit. If necessary, photograph the fire safety tags and keep them in your file. Your inventory check between rentals should also inspect for attached tags on all covered furnishings, which include upholstered items, mattresses, throw cushions, seat pads, pillows and convertible furniture. The Regulations do not cover ‘antique’ furnishings, however.
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