There have been several changes to the building regulations over the last few years with regard to fire safety. Many landlords have received letters from the Residential Tenancies Board or from Local Authorities informing them of their obligations to bring their properties up to standard.
These standards have been introduced to protect the tenants renting the properties. There are several new requirements now introduced, eg, the installation of a carbon monoxide alarm. I am going to focus on the requirements for windows and doors, naturally as it is the areas I know best.
Changes To Building Regulations for Landlords regarding Window and Doors
The most recent changes have come into force on 1st July 2017.
STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS. S.I. No. 17 of 2017 HOUSING (STANDARDS FOR RENTED HOUSES) REGULATIONS: Regulation 4. Structural Condition – part 3
“Where a window has an opening section through which a person may fall, and the bottom of the opening section is more than 1400mm above external ground level, suitable safety restrictors shall be fitted. Safety restrictors shall restrain the window sufficiently to prevent such falls.”
Technical Guidance Document B – Fire Safety 2006: Windows for Escape or Rescue – 1.5.6 (e)
“The opening section of the window should be secured by means of fastenings which are readily openable from the inside and should be fitted with safety restrictors. Safety restrictors can be either an integral part of the window operating gear or separate items of hardware which can be fitted to a window at the time of manufacture or at installation. Restrictors should operate so that they limit the initial movement of an opening section to not more than 100 mm. Lockable handles or restrictors, which can only be released by removable keys or other tools, should not be fitted to window opening sections.”
Technical Guidance Document B – Fire Safety Volume 2 Dwelling Houses 2016: 1.3.7 Windows for escape or rescue (f)
“The opening section of the window should be secured by means of fastenings which are readily openable from the inside. In certain circumstances safety restrictors may be fitted to such windows see TGD K Section 2.7. Lockable handles or restrictors, which can only be released by removable keys or other tools, should not be fitted to window opening sections for escape or rescue.”
Technical Guidance Document K Stairways, Ladders, Ramps and Guards 2014: 2.7 Prevention of falls from windows
“In dwellings where a window has an opening section through which a person may fall, (having particular regard to children under five years old), and is more than 1400 mm above external ground level, suitable safety restrictors should be provided
Safety restrictors should restrain the window sufficiently to prevent such falls. Restrictors can be either an integral part of the window operating gear or separate items of hardware which can be fitted to a window at the time of manufacture or at installation. Restrictors should operate so that they limit the initial movement of an opening section to not more than 100 mm. Note: Lockable handles or restrictors, which can only be released by removable keys or other tools, should not be fitted to window opening sections required for escape purposes (see TGD B Fire Safety).”
Window Restrictors That Meet Buiding Regulations for Landlords
There are many types of window restrictors available to buy, but the majority of them do not meet the above requirements. Either they cannot be released without the need of a key or do not limit the opening to less than 100mm.
The best window restrictor I have found and have used for many years is the Mila window restrictor. It is released by hand and limits the opening to less than 100mm. They can be fitted to the majority of casement windows (uPVC and timber) and can also be fitted to tilt and turn windows.
Ventilation Requirements For Landlords – Building Regulations
STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS. S.I. No. 17 of 2017 HOUSING (STANDARDS FOR RENTED HOUSES) REGULATIONS: Regulation 8. Ventilation
(1) Every room used, or intended for use, by the tenant of the house as a habitable room shall have adequate ventilation.
(2) All means of ventilation shall be maintained in good repair and working order.
(3) Adequate ventilation shall be provided for the removal of water vapour from every kitchen and bathroom.
TECHNICAL GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS F – VENTILATION 2009: Technical guidance documents F – Ventilation 2009
Table 1: Basic ventilation provision using background ventilators
- *Habitable Room – 5000mm2
- Kitchen – 2500mm2
- Utility Room – 2500mm2
- Bathroom – 2500mm2
- Toilet (no bath or shower) – 2500mm2
*Habitable room: A room in a dwelling used for living or sleeping purposes but does not include a kitchen having a floor area of less than 6.5 m2.”
These rates are minimum requirements. Some local authorities have their own minimum equivalent area requirements in their areas. Please check your local authority housing department to be sure.
Trickle Vents That Meet Building Regulations
Background ventilators are trickle vents (slot vents), perma vents or wall vents. In the majority of cases the easiest, cheapest and quickest way to retro fit a background ventilator is to install a trickle vent. This is done by cutting a slot/s into the window using a router or similar tool, and fitting the trickle vent hoods inside and outside. The alternative is to core a large diameter hole through the wall. This is slow, messy, noisy and more expensive. There are 2 main sizes for trickle vents 595mm and 400mm and the video below should explain how they can be installed but if you’ve any questions feel free to get in touch.
The last item I want to write about is not mentioned in the S.I Standards For Rented Houses, but is as important as the others.
A final exit is defined in the Technical Guidance Document B – Fire Safety 2006 as:
“The termination of an escape route from a building giving direct access to a street, passageway, walkway or open space, and sited to ensure the rapid dispersal of persons from the vicinity of a building so that they are no longer in danger from fire and/or smoke.”
It goes on to state:
22.214.171.124 Door fastenings
“In general, doors on escape routes, whether or not the doors are fire doors, should either not be fitted with lock, latch or bolt fastenings, or they should only be fitted with simple fastenings that can be readily operated in the direction of escape without the use of a key.
(a) Exit doors from areas holding more than 50 people should either be free from fastenings or be fitted with panic bolts complying with I.S. EN 1125 1997.
(b) Doors, other than those covered by item (a), should be fitted only with simple fastenings that can be operated from the escape side of the door without the use of a key.”
In essence, what the above states is that a standard key / key cylinder lock which is found on the vast majority of doors around the country is not suitable. In the event of a fire, the inability to open a locked door could be the difference between life and death.
Luckily, replacing the cylinder lock in a door with a thumb turn cylinder from Asec or from Iseo is very straight forward and inexpensive. The video below explains how to replace your cyclinder lock with a thumb turn cylinder but if you’ve any questions let me know.
General Guide To Building Regulations for Landlords
So that is my quick guide on the most important building regulations requirements that landlords should be aware of. This information above is meant as a general guide and not as a definitive resource on the topics covered. Please read the building regulations documents or if you are in any doubt of your requirements please contact the Residential Tenancies Board or your local authority housing department. If you need help with any parts feel free to contact me.