Furniture and Furnishings Advice for Landlords
When providing furniture and furnishings for tenants, landlords are under obligation to ensure they meet certain health and safety restrictions, to minimise the use of materials that are highly flammable or release dangerous gasses when burnt.
What regulations must be met and what do they do?
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended in 1993) dictate the standards of fire resistance required for furnishings and furniture containing upholstery, with the ultimate purpose of protecting tenants from fires breaking out and quickly spreading.
What do these regulations mean for landlords?
They mean that all furniture to which the regulations apply must have a label attached proving that it complies. Furniture without a label, or with an illegible one should be assumed not to comply. When providing second-hand furniture and furnishings for your tenants you should therefore ensure it has the necessary label. One possible way to ensure the furniture you’re providing is compliant is to opt for furniture packs.
What type of furniture do these apply to?
Furniture that the regulations apply to includes sofas, beds, pillows, and mattresses, however pillow cases, curtains and carpets are excluded, as are goods made before 1950. For more detail on what the regulations do apply to – head to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.
What are the potential consequences of not complying?
If your tenants report the safety breach, or are involved in an accident – you could face fines of up to £5,000 for each piece of furniture that isn’t compliant. Your insurance would likely be invalidated, and you could also face a prison sentence or even manslaughter charges should a death occur in your property.
What are a tenant’s rights and responsibilities?
As a tenant, if you notice any of the furniture your landlord provided breaks the fire safety laws, it’s important let them know as soon as possible so that it can be replaced. If your landlord refuses to replace the furniture, you can complain to trading standards who will enforce these regulations.
As a landlord, you ultimately need to be able to prove that you’ve taken due diligence when it comes to furniture and furnishings, and done all that could legally have been expected of you to protect the safety of your tenants and your property.