Fire Safety: Your Rights and Responsibilities

With many of you having recently moved into new accommodation, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant regarding fire safety in your rented home.

With many of you having recently moved into new accommodation, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant regarding fire safety in your rented home. 

If you’re living in private housing for the first time, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities about fire safety in your rented home. Our Advice Centre has put together this article with some top tips to stay safe, and what to do if you’re having issues.

If you live in Halls, there is lots of information about fire safety and your responsibilities in the Living in Halls guide available on the Welcome to Royal Holloway app. If you have questions, you can contact the Hall Life team at hall.life@royalholloway.ac.uk.

What are my landlord’s responsibilities?

If you live in private rented accommodation, your landlord must follow these fire safety regulations:

  • There must be at least one smoke alarm installed on each story of the property, proved to be working at the start of your tenancy.
  • There must be a carbon monoxide detector installed in each room that contains a solid fuel-burning appliance, such as a coal fire or wood-burning stove, proved to be working at the start of your tenancy.
  • All furnishings and appliances provided must meet fire safety standards and be in good working order.
  • A gas safety check should be carried out annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer, and an in-date gas safety certificate should be provided to you at the start of your tenancy. If your landlord does not provide a gas safety certificate when asked, you should report this to your local council's Environmental Health department.

Most students’ contracts are for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, however, if you live in a large House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), your landlord has additional responsibilities:

  • Clear escape routes should be identified.
  • Fire doors, alarms and extinguishers should be installed.

If you are a lodger in your landlord’s house, they do not have these same responsibilities. If you are a lodger and are concerned about any safety issues please get in touch with us at advice@su.rhul.ac.uk for further information. 

What are my responsibilities?

As a tenant, you also have some safety responsibilities:

  • Having been provided with working alarms and detectors when you moved in, it is your responsibility to ensure these continue to work throughout your tenancy and to inform your landlord if there are any issues. You should test your alarms on a regular basis, and never remove the batteries from them.
  • If you notice faults with your electrical or gas appliances and fittings, you must inform your landlord immediately so maintenance can be arranged.

In addition to these, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the risk of fire in your home, including:

  • Avoid overloading plugs, stick to one plug per socket where possible and always use a suitable adapter when using non-UK appliances.
  • Be careful when using candles or tealights, ensuring they are not left unattended. Also, check your tenancy agreement, as most tenancies don’t allow these as they invalidate the landlord’s insurance policy.
  • Ensure your hob is not left unattended, and appliances are switched off before you go to bed.
  • Identify fire escape routes through your building, making sure that hallways and stairs are kept clear, and door/window keys are easily accessible.

You can also ask the Fire and Rescue Service to visit your home and carry out a Home Fire Risk Assessment, also known as a “Safe and Well” visit.

What should I do if I’m worried about fire safety in my house?

In the first instance, if you have concerns you should raise these with your landlord. If you need advice about speaking to your landlord, we can help you- drop us an email at advice@su.rhul.ac.uk

If you feel unsafe at home, and think that your landlord is not fulfilling their responsibilities, then you should contact the environmental health officer at your local council. If you live in Egham, they can be contacted at privatesectorhousing@runnymede.gov.uk or by calling 01932 838383.

Further support

The Advice Centre is a free, independent and confidential service for all students here at Royal Holloway. Our friendly, experienced and professional staff will provide a listening ear and offer general and specialist advice. We’re here to support you with a whole range of issues, big and small, and if we’re not the best people to help you with a particular issue, we’ll point you in the right direction.

Our advisors hold drop-ins on Zoom every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon 13:30-15:30, and in-person every Wednesday 13:30-15:30. You can find more information on our events calendar and can join the virtual drop-ins using this Zoom link. 

Email us at advice@su.rhul.ac.uk with any questions or to ask for a different meeting time.