Furniture & Furnishings
Regulations on Furniture and Furnishings in a Rental Property
From the 1st January 1997 all furniture in a rental property must comply with the 1993 amendments to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. These safety regulations extend the scope of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (CPA) to cover the supplying (hiring or lending) of specified goods (upholstered furniture and certain furnishings) “in the course of business”.
The letting out of rental property is classified as ‘business’ and therefore the furniture and furnishings supplied by a landlord in a rental property come under these regulations.
The safety regulations apply to the following furniture provided in a rental property:
- Arm chairs, three piece suites, sofas, sofa beds, futons and other convertible furniture.
- Beds, Bed bases and headboards, mattresses, divans and pillows.
- Nursery furniture
- Garden furniture which could be used indoors
- Loose, stretch and fitted covers for furniture, scatter cushions, seat pads and pillows.
The furniture items excluded from the regulations are:
- Antique furniture or furniture manufactured before 1950
- Bed clothes and duvets
- Loose mattress covers
- Sleeping bags
Compliance with the regulations on furniture
For furniture in a rental property to comply with the regulations they must carry a manufacturer’s label which must be permanent and non-detachable.
- All upholstered items must have fire resistant filling material.
- All upholstered items must pass the “match resistance test” as prescribed.
- All upholstered items must also past the “cigarette test” as prescribed.
- Bed bases and mattresses are not required to bear a permanent label but compliance will be indicated if the item has a label stating that it meets BS7177
Summary of regulations of furniture supplied to a rental property
A landlord wanting to supply furniture must ensure that the types of furniture and furnishings listed above meet the current safety regulations.
These regulations are enforced by local Trading Standards Officers.
The reality is for most landlords these regulations are not an issue because they let their property unfurnished or part furnished, therefore without soft furnishings other than perhaps curtains, which are exempted from these regulations.
For those landlords wanting to furnish a rental property my advice is to furnish with new; given that it is an offence to sell non-complying items, anything new should be fine. Keep your proof of purchase and any other related documentation as future proof. I would strongly advise any landlords against renting out a property furnished with a fashionable ‘vintage look’ made up of junk shops finds. It might look very appealing to some tenants but potentially the landlord is putting themselves at risk.
If a landlord does decide to use second hand furniture, then be very careful. Here you must ensure that the correct labels are in place identifying the fact that the materials are fire resistant. Failure to do this will open you up to prosecution and also put your tenants in a potentially hazardous position.
A landlord has a duty of care to the general safety of tenants and any other individuals visiting their rental property.