Making sure your flat is fire safe
Whether your landlord is responsible for making your home fire safe depends:
- on your tenancy agreement
- when your home was built
- if you have a private landlord
Talk to your landlord first if you’re worried your home wouldn’t be safe if there was a fire - for example if there aren’t enough smoke alarms. Make sure you report anything you think isn’t working properly.
If you’re a council tenant, your landlord will be the local authority - check their website first. Some councils have information about their fire safety plans on the homepage.
If you own a flat
If you’re a leaseholder you might be asked to pay the cost of fire-safety works as part of your service charge. Check the terms of your lease.
If you live in a block of flats
There are fire safety rules that the person who owns or manages your building needs to follow. They must:
- give you fire safety instructions when you move in and every year after that - these should tell you how to report a fire and evacuate a building
- tell you if the fire safety instructions change and display them in the building - for example at the entrance
- do monthly checks on the fire fighting equipment and the lifts firefighters would need to use
- install a secure box in the building that contains details about the floorplan, where the fire fighting equipment is and who’s responsible for fire safety
- install signs that clearly show floor and flat numbers
If you live in a building where the fire safety rules aren’t followed, you can report to their local fire and rescue service.
If you think your building is unsafe
Ask your landlord to do a fire safety test if you’re worried about how safe the building itself is - for example the outer cladding. If they’ve done a fire safety test recently, ask for a copy.
It’s best to ask in writing and keep a copy. Send your landlord a letter or email and include:
- why you think your home is unsafe
- your name and address
- the date
Also include any specific repairs that need doing - for example if a fire door doesn’t shut properly.
If your landlord won’t do a fire safety test
Find your local council’s details online, and contact their ‘environmental health department’. Explain that you’re concerned about fire safety, and that your landlord has refused to arrange a test. You should also let the department know:
- what you’re worried about
- how old you and any other tenants are
- if you or any other tenants have a serious illness or disability
The council can arrange for an inspector to check your home for hazards - this is known as a ‘Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)’ inspection.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you want help arranging the inspection - an adviser can help you write to the council and talk you through what to expect.
If the council takes too long
Make a formal complaint to the local council about the inspection first. You can usually find the process on your council’s website.
It’s also a good idea to talk to your local MP - they might be able to contact the council for you.
If you’re still not satisfied with the council’s response, you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman - it’s their job to investigate complaints about local councils.
What happens next
If the council think you need an inspection, they’ll send an inspector to check for safety hazards. If the inspection finds anything dangerous, the council can force your landlord to make your home safe.
If the inspection finds serious safety hazards, you might need to move out until your home is safe - find out what to do if this happens.