Safety of Furniture

2.9 Safety of Furniture

If furnished accommodation is being provided it is important to understand
the need to provide safe furniture and furnishings, particular in relation to
fire safety.

2.9.1 The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988

Since 1st 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 sets safety standards for fire and flame-retarding
requirements for all furniture. 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:

• furniture;
• 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:

• sleeping bags;
• 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.

The publication A Guide to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety)
Regulations is available from the Department of Business Innovation and
Skills website: www.berr.gov.uk/files/file24685.pdf