If furnished accommodation is being provided it is important to understand the need to provide safe furniture and furnishings, particularly in relation to fire safety.
2.9.1 The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988
Since 1 January 1997 persons who hire out furniture in the course of a business (and this includes furniture provided with rented accommodation) are required to comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 which set safety standards for fire and flame-retarding requirements for upholstered furniture manufactured after 1950 or where the tenancy commenced after March 1993. The regulations relate to:
furniture meeting a cigarette resistance test cover fabric, whether for use in permanent or loose covers, meeting a match resistance test and filling materials for all furniture meeting ignitability tests.
Tenancies that commenced prior to 1993 are exempt, but all additional or replacement furniture added after 1993 must comply with fire resistance requirements. A new tenant after 1993 means that all relevant furniture must comply.
The regulations require that:
All new furniture (except mattresses, bed bases, pillows, scatter cushions, seat pads and loose and stretch covers for furniture) must carry a display label at the point of sale. This is the retailer’s responsibility.
All new furniture (except mattresses and bed bases) and loose and stretch covers are required to carry a permanent label providing information about their fire-retardant properties. Such a label will indicate compliance, although lack of one in second-hand furniture would not necessarily imply non-compliance as the label might have been removed.
Generally, if second-hand furniture has not been bought from a reputable dealer and is not labelled, then it should be assumed that the furniture will fail to meet the regulations.
The regulations apply to any of the following that contain upholstery:
beds, headboards of beds, mattresses sofas, sofa beds, futons and other convertibles scatter cushions and seat pads
pillows and loose and stretch covers for furniture.
The regulations do not apply to:
bedclothes (including duvets) loose covers for mattresses pillowcases curtains carpets.
The regulations relate only to items provided by the landlord and do not apply to items provided by the tenants for which the landlord is not responsible.