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Safety of furniture

If you are providing furnished accommodation you need to understand your responsibility to provide safe furniture and furnishings, in particular in relation to fire safety.

>> Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 apply to domestic items which contain upholstery, including beds, headboards, mattresses, sofa-beds, nursery furniture, garden furniture which can be used indoors, furniture in new caravans, scatter cushions, seat pads, pillows and loose and stretch covers for furniture.

Requirements of the regulations:

1. 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 retailerís responsibility.

2. 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-retarding properties. Such a label will indicate compliance, although lack of one would not necessarily imply non-compliance as the label might have been removed.

The Regulations apply to any of the following that contain upholstery:

  • Furniture
  • Beds, headboards of beds, mattresses
  • Sofa beds, futons and other convertibles
  • Scatter cushions and seat pads
  • Pillows
  • Loose and stretch covers for furniture

The Regulations do not apply to:

  • Sleeping bags
  • Bedclothes (including duvets)
  • Loose covers for mattresses
  • Pillowcases
  • Curtains
  • Carpets

3. All furniture (new and second hand) must meet the Fire Resistance Requirements:

  • Furniture to pass a cigarette-resistance test
  • Cover fabric, whether for use in permanent or loose covers, to pass a match-resistance test
  • Filling materials for all furniture to pass ignitability tests

The Regulations apply to persons who hire out furniture in the course of business which includes rented accommodation, and to the hiring of furniture which also includes furnishing let as part of a residential letting.

Further information can be obtained from the publication ĎA Guide to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulationsí available from Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform website.

From 1st January 1997, all upholstered furniture provided in privately rented accommodation was required to comply with the fire- and flame-retarding requirements of the Regulations unless it was either: manufactured before 1950 or the tenancy commenced prior to March 1993.

Tenancies commencing prior to 1993 are exempt, but all additional or replacement furniture added after this time must comply with fire resistance requirements. A new tenant will mean that ALL furniture must comply.

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