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Are chimneys a landlord’s responsibility?

A cosy fire is one of life’s simplest but greatest pleasures that have been a part of homes for the most part of history. They do require regular maintenance for safety purposes. But what about in rented properties? In this guide, we take a look at what a landlord’s responsibility is when it comes to chimneys and ventilation.

A cosy fire is one of life’s simplest but greatest pleasures that have been a part of homes for the most part of history. They do require regular maintenance for safety purposes. But what about in rented properties? In this guide, we take a look at what a landlord’s responsibility is when it comes to chimneys and ventilation.

Chimney landlord responsibility

As a landlord, you are responsible for fire safety in your rental property. Under Section 11 of The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, a landlord is legally responsible for ‘ensuring the safety, working and servicing of all heating and hot water installations‘. From this explanation, it is not immediately clear, but this does include open fires, Rayburn stoves, gas, coal, and wood-burning stoves.

If your rental property has an open fire, a wood-burning stove or the appliances mentioned then your landlord responsibilities are:

  • To follow fire safety regulations
  • To provide a smoke alarm on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance (a coal fire or wood-burning stove)
  • To check your tenants have clear access to escape routes at all times
  • To ensure the furniture and furnishings you provide are fire safe
  • To provide fire alarms and extinguishers if the property is a large house in multiple occupations (HMO)

Fuel-burning and fires can pose a number of risks and health concerns for tenants, so it is vitally important to pay particular attention to these landlord responsibilities for chimneys.

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Landlord responsibility for ventilation

landlord responsibility ventilationHand in hand with the responsibility for chimneys is the responsibility for ventilation.

The main concern in regards to ventilation is the health of the tenants. If your property has a fire, gas appliances or a fuel-burning stove, then as a landlord you have the responsibility to make sure that these items are serviced annually. You must also ensure that any flues are also maintained to provide the proper ventilation.

A landlord’s responsibility for ventilation extends beyond fires and chimneys. One of the other potential areas for concern is mould and damp.

Landlords cannot put their tenants’ health at risk and so to help alleviate mould and damp you must try to put in as many condensation-management features as possible. If these can be automated then all the better. Examples of this would be installing a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system (MVHR) or the use of dehumidifiers.

A landlord also has the responsibility of educating the tenants on what they can do to avoid problems such as condensation that leads to damp. You should advise them to regularly open windows to let damp or humid air out of bathrooms and kitchens, and not to leave wet washing hanging up for too long. To help protect tenants and your property, you could consider adding a contractual requirement for your tenants to regularly ventilate the property. If you are considering adding any clauses into your tenancy agreement it is always recommended to seek legal advice before doing so.

Landlord responsibility for chimney sweeping

landlors responsibility chimney sweepingIf your rental property has an open fire or wood-burning stove with a chimney, there are specific landlord responsibilities for chimney sweeping. Before the start of a tenancy, as a landlord, you must make sure that chimneys and flues are swept and not blocked by any obstructions. The easiest way to keep on top of this is to find a recommended local chimney sweep and book in for periodic servicing and appointments to make sure any chimneys in your rental property are safe.

As part of your tenancy agreement, you can pass the responsibility for getting the chimney swept and in a safe and usable condition on to your tenants. However, it is highly recommended that as the landlord you take the responsibility for chimney sweeping and maintenance.

As well as being important for general health and safety, chimney sweeping is also important for your insurance. Some underwriters make it very clear in their policies that in order to be adequately insured, chimneys and flues need to be regularly maintained. As the landlord, if you fail to ensure this happens, in the event of a chimney fire you may find that your policy may be invalid.

Chimneys should be swept at least once a year as a minimum and should always be swept before the colder months. Chimney sweeps provide a certificate to show that the necessary work has been completed so you should always keep an up-to-date record of when your chimney was swept.

Being a landlord comes with a lot of responsibilities. If you are unsure how best to look after your chimney, Aga or wood-burning stove then always seek the advice of a professional.

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