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Furniture and Fire Regulations in Your Let Properties

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 5 Oct 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Furniture Furnishings Fire Landlord

It’s not only gas and electrical appliances that must be maintained and kept safe for your tenants; there are also regulations that govern the types of furniture and furnishings that you are allowed to supply in a rented property.

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988

The laws governing fire and furniture safety were brought in to make sure that any furniture and furnishings supplied in a property that is rented out are fire resistant and that they won’t produce fume-filled smoke if there is a fire in the property. Sometimes, furniture also has to pass a test for match and cigarette resistance.

All furniture or furnishings that you supply with a furnished house when you let it out have to be clearly marked with a label showing that they meet all of the necessary standards. All new furniture that is subject to the law should come with a label already attached, but over time, safety labels can be lost, removed or damaged. It doesn’t matter if they originally complied or not, you must be able to demonstrate this with the safety label. If you rent out the property after the labels have been lost, you should either have the furniture re-tested or replace it.

What Else Does the Law Say?

The legislation was passed in 1997 and states specifically that all furniture in tenanted residential property “has to comply with the 1993 amendments to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 which extends the scope of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (CPA).”These regulations cover supplying, hiring or lending of upholstered furniture and some furnishings, if it takes place in the course of a business. It applies equally if you are renting your own home or buying to let, although if you rent your home out temporarily you may be exempt if the rental is not part of a business and does not form your main source of income. Check with your local authority if you’re not sure.

What Are the Prescribed Items?

The regulations apply to:
  • Arm chairs, three piece suites, sofas, sofa beds, futons and other convertible furniture.
  • Beds, bases and head boards, mattresses, divans and pillows.
  • Nursery furniture
  • Garden furniture which could be used indoors
  • Loose, stretch and fitted covers for furniture, scatter cushions, seat pads and pillows.

Excluded Items

The regulations do not currently apply to:
  • Antique furniture or furniture manufactured before 1950
  • Bed clothes and duvets
  • Loose mattress covers
  • Pillowcases
  • Sleeping bags
  • Curtains
  • Carpets

What Should a Landlord Do?

Failing to comply with the regulations is a criminal offence. If convicted you could receive a fine of £5,000 for every item that doesn’t comply, six months imprisonment and even manslaughter charges if a death results. You could be sued by the tenant for damages, and your insurance may be invalidated.

If your tenant complains, or worse if there is a fire and an issue is raised about the compliance of the furniture with the regulations, you can defend any claims that are made against you by the defence of "due diligence" – which means that under the circumstances, you took all reasonable steps to avoid committing an offence . To be able to use this as a defence you’ll need to have evidence showing what you did and the steps you took.A private owner letting out their own home could use this as a defence but a letting agent would not be able to claim the same thing as they would be acting in the course of a business.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
How do I stand legally if a tenant introduces furniture which does not comply with regulations?
Jessie - 5-Oct-16 @ 10:23 PM
How can I get a sofa retested, the fire safety label is missing after the last Tenant checkout ?
BB - 11-Mar-14 @ 11:15 PM
'If you rent out the property after the labels have been lost, you should either have the furniture re-tested or replace it.' Further to this statement - can you recommend anyone who re-tests?
Louisa - 26-May-11 @ 12:41 PM
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