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F is for Fire & Furnishings Regulations

A – Z of Letting

F is for Fire & Furnishings Regulations

In order to comply with the Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988

a Landlord or Managing Letting agent (suppliers) must ensure that furniture and furnishings meet the relevant requirements regarding ignition and fire safety. The regulations aim to improve the fire safety of materials used in the manufacturing of furniture by introducing two new standards of fire resistance. These standards include two tests:

  • the match test and
  • the cigarette test

Many house fires are started by an item of soft furnishing catching fire and subsequently death can occur from the inhalation of toxic fumes given off from man-made fabrics and foam coverings.

  1. 1. Introduction

The relevant Legislation:

The relevant regulations are contained in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 as amended by Regulations made in 1989 and 1993. These Regulations are made under consumer protection legislation under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA 87).  The important amendments for 1993 and 1997 are summarised as follows:

From 1st March 1993

  • Any property made available to let after this date must meet all the fire resistance requirements.
  • Any furniture supplied, whether new or second hand, in addition to or in replacement of any existing furniture must also comply with fire resistance regulations.

From 1st January 1997

This amendment relates to where a property is continued to be let to the same tenant. Therefore, furniture which has been supplied to tenants by landlords need not be replaced until a new agreement is made with a new tenant, since it is only in that case that a new supply will have taken place. In other words, furniture supplied in properties before 1st March 1993 need not be replaced until a new supply is made.

The regulations apply to the following:

  • Scatter cushions and seat pads
  • Sofa beds & Futons
  • Pillows
  • Beds, headboards and mattresses
  • Garden furniture suitable for in house use
  • Loose stretch covers for furniture
  • Nursery Furniture

Non compliant items include:

  • Duvets
  • Curtains
  • Sleeping bags
  • Pillow cases
  • Furniture made prior to 1950’s
  • Carpets
  1. 2. Labelling
  • Check the Label!

All items of furniture or furnishings must have a label attached to it. New items must have a label attached to it at the point of sale. If an item doesn’t have a label it should not be assumed that it complies with the regulations.

All labels should clearly state that:

  • Covers are match resistant
  • Upholstery is cigarette resistant (covers and fillings)
  • Foams and fillings past the test

You can only establish whether the requirements are met by “testing to destruction”.

All new furniture (except mattresses and bed-bases which have specific labelling requirements under the relevant British Standard) must carry a permanent label.

  1. 3. Fire Protection for HMO’s

Statistically houses shared by unrelated occupants (HMO’s) are more like to be involved in a fire accident at some point in time compared to more traditional family dwellings. Therefore it is vital that there is a fire protection scheme in place to give the occupants chance of escape. For more information on HMO regulations click here.

  • Fire protection scheme

This should have:

  • An alarm system to detect and then warn residents of the fire.
  • A safe escape route which is well lit.
  • Fire fighting equipment so residents can tackle small fires.
  1. 4. Enforcement of Regulations

Breach of the regulations is a criminal offence under the relevant provisions of CPA 1987. Trading Standards are the enforcement authority.

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