Factsheet 3 - Furniture and Furnishings Regulations

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993)

(Consumer Protection Act 1987)

Commencement: 

The regulations came into force on 1st March 1993 for new lettings.

Scope: 

The regulations set new levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery, acting as secondary legislation under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.   Many domestic fires start with soft furnishings catching fire and many deaths are attributed to the highly poisonous fumes that are given off by the man-made foams and coverings.   The regulations include sensible measures to improve the fire safety of materials used in their construction.

Landlords and letting agents are also included under the scope of the Regulations.  The Amendment Regulations introduced in 1993 draw specific attention to the responsibilities of letting agents and those engaged in the 'letting of accommodation'.  The Regulations refer to the 'supply' of furniture and furnishings and it has been established that in many cases, a letting agent or commercial landlord is deemed to be 'supplying in the course of business' when these types of items are included within a property.

The bulk of the regulations deal with the duties of manufacturers (and importers if manufactured abroad) in producing and supplying domestic furniture and furnishings to the required new standards for fire resistance.  These standards include two tests; the match test and the cigarette test.   For new furniture, the net effect of the regulations is that any such products which have been manufactured after 1st March 1989 or sold by a retailer after 1st March 1990 must be to the new standards and labelled accordingly (see section entitled 'Identification').

However, in the case of letting agents or landlord letting in the course of business, the furniture 'supplied' will invariably be second-hand and often this furniture may have been manufactured and purchased prior to 1989.  However, since 1st March 1993 landlords letting residential property have been expected to ensure that any soft furniture complies with the regulations.

The main provisions are:

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