As you know gas and electrical appliances must be maintained and kept safe for your tenants; but were you aware of the regulations that govern the types of furniture and furnishings that you are allowed to supply in a rented property.
Furnishings supplied in a property that is rented out must be fire resistant and 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.
Many landlords ensure furniture and furnishings are clearly marked with a label showing they meet all the necessary standards. All new furniture comes with the label attached, but over time, safety labels can be lost, removed or damaged.
What to do about lost safety labels?
It’s difficult for landlords to monitor the labels when the property is let out because often they only come with a plastic tag attachment which breaks easily. So what can you do to remedy that? Our advice is to sew, staple, glue or use other means of permanently fixing a label to a product and take photographic evidence for your tenant folder.
It doesn’t matter if they originally complied or not, as a landlord 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! But that costs money.
What Should a Landlord Do?
Investing a little time in fixing labels to furniture and furnishings will save money on unnecessary and sometimes expensive replacements. 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.
What are the Prescribed Items?
The regulations apply to:
- Armchairs, three-piece suites, sofas, sofa beds, futons and other convertible furniture.
- Beds, bases and headboards, mattresses, divans and pillows.
- Nursey furniture.
- Garden furniture which could be used indoors.
- Loose, stretchy and fitted covers for furniture, scatter cushions, seat pads and pillows.
The regulations do not currently apply to:
- Antique furniture or furniture manufactured before 1950.
- Bedclothes and duvets.
- Loose mattress covers.
- Sleeping bags.
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 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. We advise that you check with your local authority if you’re not sure.
If you need legal guidance, please contact your property solicitors.
If you need help from an inventory perspective please contact us here.