Fire Door Safety in Rental Properties

fire door safety

Fire safety is essential in every rental property – but what are the rules surrounding fire doors?

Understanding the regulations will help you to ensure that you are operating within the law at all times and renting out a safe and secure home to tenants. Read on to find out what fire doors are, how effective they are in preventing fire spread, and what the legal requirements are for fire doors in rented accommodations.

What is a fire door?

A fire door is a door which is both fire-resistant and closes automatically with a door closer. Fire doors prevent fires from spreading quickly around a property by providing a fire-resistant barrier between areas of the home. They’re designed to keep the fire at bay for long enough to give all the occupants of a property the time to escape in the case of a fire.

Fire doors will all have an ‘FD’ rating, which is a number referring to how many minutes of fire the door can withstand. The most common FD rating on fire doors in the UK is FD30. Fire doors should usually be made of solid timber, and have an intumescent seal around the outside. The door frame will ideally be made to the same fire safety standards as the door, and a closer fitted door and frame will ensure that the door closes on its own.

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If your property is an HMO – a House in Multiple Occupation – then yes, fire doors are legally required in your HMO property.

HMOs are usually properties occupied by three or more tenants from two or more different households. The rules on what constitutes an HMO and whether you need a licence varies in different areas of the UK. It’s best the check with your local council.

Properties let to single occupants and households do not require fire doors by law, although you may still choose to have a fire door fitted to high-risk rooms such as the kitchen to maximise fire safety in the home.

Fire doors must be fitted in the place of all doors leading to an escape route. For most properties, this means all doors which come off landings, hallways, and stairways. This will ensure that your tenants should have the time to escape through the nearest fire exit from anywhere in the property- usually the front or the back door.

All private rental properties – included HMOS – must have an electrical inspection and valid EICR report. Read more here.

How effective are fire doors?

If properly installed, fire doors can be extremely effective in improving fire safety within a home. As mentioned above, all fire doors come with an ‘FD’ rating which measures how many minutes the door can resist fire for.

The most common types of fire doors available are FD30 and FD60 which can withstand the heat of fire for 30 or 60 minutes. These give ample time for residents to be awoken by a fire alarm and to evacuate the property.

Fire doors with a rating in excess of FD60 are rarely used in domestic properties simply because more time isn’t really needed for safe evacuation. However, it’s possible to install higher-rated doors in places where preservation of property or contents is especially important.

What is the penalty for not installing fire doors?

If you choose to rent out an HMO property without installing fire doors, you can be penalised with unlimited fines. Your tenants can even recoup the cost of the last 12 months of rent from you. Fines can vary depending upon the offence, with lower fines of £1,000 or more seen in some cases. Other landlords have been fined £55,000 for multiple fire safety breaches, or more than this if tenants suffer injuries in a fire.

How do I check my fire door is safe?

The British Woodworking Federation – creators of Fire Door Safety Week – have put together a simple Five-Step Fire Door Check for ensuring your fire doors are safe.

1. Certification

Look for a label, a plug or similar marking to show that it’s certificated and follow the instructions. Note: All ironmongery such as locks, latches, closers and hinges, must be CE marked and compatible with the door’s leaf certification.

2. Apertures

Altering doors for glazing apertures and air transfer grilles will make the certification void.

3. Gaps and seals

check the gap around the door frame is constant (around 3 to 4mm) and CE marked hinges are firmed fixed with no missing screws. Ensure seals are fitted at the top and sides of the door too.

4. Closers

Check that the closer shuts the door onto the latch from any position – check from 75mm from the closed position.

5. Operation

Ensure the door closes correctly around all parts of the frame.

Stay informed with Fire Door Safety Week

This year’s national Fire Door Safety Week runs from 21st to 27th of September, with a goal to boost awareness of the importance of installing fire doors in homes across the UK. Over 37,000 house fires claim over 200 lives in the UK every year (First Alert Online), and many of these deaths are preventable with the installation of proper fire safety equipment including fire doors and smoke alarms.

Follow #FireDoorSafetyWeek this year to learn more about how to safely prevent fires from spreading in your properties with advice and webinars on the subject for homeowners, landlords, and business managers.

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