Residential Landlords Association (RLA)
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Good grilling guide: Helping your tenants stay safe this summer

With the heatwave here, many people will be planning on having a barbecue this weekend. As a landlord the idea of your tenants firing up the grill in your garden may fill you with trepidation. But you don’t need to pour cold water on your tenants’ summer.

In this article first published in Residential Property Investor magazine, RLA insurance partner Rentguard looks at what you should do to protect your tenants and property.

While there is a small risk attached to barbecues if they are not properly tended and maintained, there’s no reason why your tenants can’t safely enjoy overcooked sausages in the sunshine without any sparks flying.

Include a BBQ clause in your tenancy agreement. There’s no need to ban barbecues outright at your property, unless the lease specifies that they are not allowed, but it is important to formally establish some basic rules to avoid any ambiguity.

Pre-season once over

If you provide a barbecue with the property, you are obliged to check it is in good working order. This can be done during one of your regular inspections – just let the tenants know in advance. If the tenants have their own barbeque, flag up in your communications that they are obliged to take care of the maintenance and should ensure it is safe to use.

Write to your tenants

If you have not got a barbecue clause in your agreement yet, or you would like to raise the point separately, sending your tenants some basic rules outlining barbecue safety and highlighting anything in the tenancy agreement that relates to barbecuing at the property is helpful.

Here are a few tips to pass on to them:

  • Think of others:Ask them to be mindful of the neighbours, both in respects of the smoke and the noise. If the property is in a block of flats, make sure the tenants are aware of the rules around barbecuing in the block – most leaseholders will not allow them on balconies.
  • Ensure it is set up safely:Stability is essential. Ensure the barbecue is on a flat, sturdy surface. Disposable barbecues should be raised on bricks to avoid scorching the grass or the patio. The barbecue should be well away from sheds, trees or shrubs and a good distance from the property. Ask tenants to set the barbecue up on the patio rather than the lawn to avoid grass fires, particularly during very dry periods.
  • Never light a barbecue in an enclosed space: Barbecuing in the UK always runs the risk of being a damp affair, but even in the event of a downpour, tenants must not be tempted to take their grill into a sheltered space, such as the shed. Make this a condition of your tenants hosting a barbecue.
  • Keep animals and children well away:It is easy to get distracted when there are a lot of people around, but tenants must ensure children and pets are not left unsupervised near a lit barbecue.
  • Never leave the BBQ unattended: It is the tenants’ responsibility to ensure the grill is properly extinguished at the end of the night. Again, make this a condition of them hosting barbecues.
  • Have a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies
  • Light charcoal barbecues with care:If your tenants are using a charcoal barbecue they must use only recognised firelighters or starter fuel and only on cold coals. They must never use petrol.
  • Dispose of ashes responsibly: Never put hot ashes straight into a dustbin as they could melt the plastic and cause a fire.
  • Gas barbecues:Your tenants must ensure they turn off the gas cylinder if they are using a gas barbecue, before turning off at the controls to ensure any residual gas is used up.

Now kick back, add some sunshine and your tenants have got the perfect recipe for a great – and safe – barbecue.


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