If you’re a Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) landlord, you should certainly have fire doors in your property. But what are the specifics, and are fire doors ever required in standard rentals?
Fire door regulations for HMOs
Fire doors are a nationwide legal requirement for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs):
- All doors leading to an escape route must be fire resistant
- Fire doors must be fitted with a ‘closer’ so that they close automatically
- It’s advised that fire doors are fitted to rooms where there’s a high risk of fire starting, such as the kitchen
- Any door on an escape route that locks – usually the front and back doors - should have a ‘thumb-turn’ lock on the inside that enables it to be opened without a key
Fire doors in single-let properties
If a rental property isn’t an HMO, you’re not required by law to have any fire doors. The only exception might be where a local council selective licensing scheme in England might require additional fire safety measures, which could include fire doors.
If you have a single-let property that doesn’t require a license, you can of course choose to fit fire doors and we’d suggest it might be a good idea to have one for the kitchen.
What type of fire door do I need?
It must be made of solid timber and have a label or plug confirming that it’s been certified as a fire door. The label will have an ‘FD’ rating, indicating how many minutes of fire the door can withstand. The most common is FD30 – that’s 30 minutes.
The door should have an intumescent seal around the edges, which will expand in the heat of a fire and seal the gaps between the door and frame.
Importantly, make sure the door frame is manufactured to the same standard as the fire door. Otherwise, the frame could burn away more quickly and let the fire spread, regardless of the quality of the door itself.
How much do fire doors cost?
As a rough price guide, you could expect to pay* (incl. VAT):
- Single plain door – £90
- Door with moulded panels - £175
- Basic FD30 fire door set (plain door, intumescent seals, frame, hinges, handle with latch and overhead closer) - £450
You should be able to keeps costs to a minimum if you’re buying multiple doors and use a contractor with a trade account. As long as the doors don’t get damaged, they should last up to 20 years.
What about propping open fire doors?
Fire doors must be shut if a fire breaks out, which is why they have closers fitted. However, if you’ve got high-traffic areas where it might not be convenient to have the door constantly shut – e.g. kitchen or living room - you can fit sound-triggered or hard-wired retainers.
These are units that fit to the wall and hold the door open with a magnet. Then, if the fire alarm system is triggered, they automatically release and the closer shuts the door. A decent closer will cost around £100 (safelincs.co.uk).
If your property has fire doors fitted, it’s vital you make it very clear to your tenants that they must not:
- Prop fire doors open - with a chair or a wedge, for example
- Remove the automatic closer
- Disable any retainer that has been fitted
Be aware that if fire door regulations are not followed, it could cause an issue with the validity of your property license and may also invalidate your insurance if you file a claim for any fire damage.
If you are concerned about whether your property meets fire safety regulations, do contact your local Your Move branch who will be happy to help you understand what you need to do to make sure your property is being let legally and safely.
Obviously, it’s important that the smoke and heat alarms function properly, so here’s a summary of the regulations:
England & Wales - Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
- At least one working smoke alarm on each floor of a rental property
- A carbon monoxide alarm in all rooms that have a solid fuel-burning appliance (e.g. coal fire or wood-burning stove)
- Every alarm must be checked at the start of each new tenancy to make sure it’s working - and get your tenants to sign a document (possibly on the inventory) to confirm this has been done
- Good practice guidance is to test the alarms during periodical inspections
- A smoke alarm on each storey with living accommodation
- A smoke alarm in each individual ‘unit’ – whether that’s a bedroom or bedsit
- A heat alarm in high-risk rooms, such as kitchens
- Alarms must be interconnected and mains powered
- Properties of three storeys or higher must have an appropriate alarm system with a central panel
- The alarm system must be kept in good working order and have maintenance carried out according to the manufacturer’s instructions – commonly every six months
- Evidence of regular checking/servicing must be provided to the local authority on request
- One smoke alarm in the living room or room most commonly used during the daytime
- One smoke alarm in every hallway or landing on each floor – or main circulation space
- A heat alarm in the kitchen
- Alarms must be ceiling mounted, mains powered (or long-life lithium battery) and interlinked
- A carbon monoxide alarm in all rooms with a solid fuel-burning appliance (doesn’t need to be linked)
- New tenants must be advised of the expiry dates of the alarms before the tenancy begins.
Full fire safety information is available on the Scottish Government website.
It can be daunting to try and meet all the lettings rules and regulation – there are over 168 of them! So if you are worried at all, do contact your local Your Move branch and we will be happy to help advise. If we are fully managing your property, the type of work described in this article will be recommended if required and organised with competent people who will make sure your property meets the legal and safety requirements.
Alternatively, if you have specific questions about fire doors - or any other aspect of fire safety for your rental property - you can contact your local fire department and see if the local Fire Safety Officer can come to visit and assess the property for you.
*Other suppliers are available but we have taken a quote from safelincs.co.uk for information only.)