Fire Safety - The Landlord Responsibilities under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (“the 1988 Act”) sets minimum levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture. When letting out furnished property the landlord must ensure that all the furnishings provided by them meet the minimum levels under the 1988 Act. The only exemptions to this are landlords who are only letting a temporary basis. The regulations under the 1988 Act (“the Regulations”) will apply only if the letting is for a longer period or is one of a series of let’s and where the property is regarded primarily as a sort of income rather than as a home. The Regulations apply to all persons who supply furniture and furnishings in connection with accommodation in the course of business and in general this will include not only landlords, but also letting agents and managing agents.

The Regulations apply to all furniture provided by the landlord whether it is new or whether the second-hand or whether it is a property being let for the first time or if it is replacement furniture for an existing tenanted property. Most furniture that meets the standard required under the Regulations can be identified by the manufacturer’s label which will state whether or not these requirements have been met.

All furniture within property that is being let from 1 January 1997 must meet the fire resistance requirements of the Regulations.

Types of furniture affected by the Regulations

The Regulations apply to beds, headboards, mattresses, sofas and sofa beds (and other convertible furniture such as futons), cushions (including scatter cushions and seat pads), pillows and loose and stretch covers furniture. The Regulations do not apply to carpets, curtains or duvets. 

The Regulations do not apply to furniture made before 1950 or to re-upholstered furniture made before that date.

Labelling

The Regulations require that all new furniture (except mattresses, bed bases, pillows, scatter conditions, seat pads and loose and stretch covers). The Furniture must carry a display label at the point-of-sale.   Although primarily, this is the retailers responsibility it increases the onus on the landlord to only purchase furniture from retailers that do display the label clearly at the point of sale. All new furniture (except mattresses and bed bases) and loose and stretch covers are required to have a permanent label providing the information about the fire retardant properties. The presence of the correct label will indicate that the furniture is compliant.

Second-hand furniture

Generally furniture bought second-hand and not bought from a reputable dealer may pose a risk to the landlord. The absence of the correct label does not necessarily mean that the second-hand furniture is not compliant as the label may have come off over time; however the risk of second-hand furniture is that if the label is not still intact, the landlord will not know for sure whether the furniture is compliant and the use of such furniture may leave the landlord open to a risk of prosecution or a claim being made against them. General advice to landlords is that if the Furniture does not have the correct label then it should be replaced.

It’s important to emphasise that the Regulations relate only to the items provided by the landlord for the use the tenants and do not apply to items that have been provided by the tenants for which the landlord is not responsible.

The regulations are enforced by the Local Authority Trading Standards Department.

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