What are the rules for fireworks parties in rental homes?

Bonfire Night has bemused the rest of the world since the sixteen-hundreds. Our annual observation of a failed terrorist attack is revered amongst us Brits as we gleefully trudge out in our hundreds every 5th of November to set fire to stuff in fields and frighten our pets with small explosives. Fun times.

Related topics:  Landlords,  Tenants,  Bonfire Night,  Fireworks
Property | Reporter
2nd November 2023
bonfire night
"There are significant perks to being a tenant: you don’t have to pay for boiler repairs or cough up to fix a loose roof tile, for example. But there are also some downsides, one of which is less freedom than that is enjoyed by owner-occupiers"
- James Forrester - Barrows and Forrester

While it seems perfectly reasonable for homeowners to light fires in their own back gardens, as you would probably guess, the rules are slightly different for those in rental accommodation.

The latest research from estate and lettings agent, Barrows and Forrester, reveals that tenants who want to host a bonfire party in their rental home need to check their tenancy agreement closely and be kind to their neighbours.

Are you allowed to host a bonfire party as a tenant, and are you allowed to set fireworks off in the garden? Barrows and Forrester has all the information you need.

Tenancy agreement, landlord, and neighbours

The answer to the question of whether a tenant can host a bonfire party at their home can usually be found within the tenancy agreement.

Many agreements clearly prohibit any kind of bonfires in the garden, and the same will likely apply to fireworks. But if your contract does not contain any specific language on the matter, you could still get in trouble for going ahead with a celebration. For example, your agreement may state that you must not pose any kind of nuisance or annoyance to your neighbours. Nor should you engage in any kind of antisocial behaviour

That’s why you are strongly advised to speak directly with the landlord and ask their permission to have a fireworks party. If they say yes, you should also let your neighbours know that you’re planning a party, even if it’s only a small one.

Fireworks can be very loud, causing distress for pets, the elderly, or the otherwise vulnerable. You should act with compassion and make sure your neighbours are aware of the party and happy for it to go ahead. It also helps to give them information on when the party will start and end, and what time fireworks will be set off, etc.

Being safe

There’s a good chance your tenancy agreement prohibits you from having a fireworks party, but if you’re going to go ahead and do it anyway, it’s essential that you implement some fundamental safety precautions.

Fireworks must be set off from a safe distance and in an area that is clear of trees, bushes, and telephone wires, etc. Once the fireworks have been spent, great care must also be taken when collecting them.

But the biggest and most dangerous threat is the bonfire.

Fires can scorch grass and lead to out-of-control fires if nearby trees or fences catch alight. So the fire needs to be in a wide, open space. Many rental properties simply won’t have a garden large enough to be considered safe, so use your judgment wisely and forgo the bonfire if your garden is too small or too crowded by foliage and surrounding properties.

Other considerations for tenants

Safety and neighbourliness aside, there are other things for tenants to consider when hosting a fireworks party, much of which revolves around protecting the property.

Much of the evening will be spent outdoors, and guests will likely move in and out of the home frequently. This can cause huge amounts of mess and damage to floors and carpets, so tenants should prepare well and do everything they can to protect the property to avoid having to pay for cleaning or repairs. A simple ‘no shoes in the house’ rule is an easy way of avoiding such problems, or another option is to lay down protective sheets for people to walk on.

Before the party starts, ensure that all fire alarms in the property are working properly. The bonfire may be outside, but there is always a risk that a large fire can catch or spit and thus spark a fire in the home. As the host of the party, you are responsible for the safety of everyone present, so basic precautions like checking fire alarms are the least you can do.

Managing Director of Barrows and Forrester, James Forrester, commented:

“There are significant perks to being a tenant: you don’t have to pay for boiler repairs, or cough up to fix a loose roof tile, for example. But there are also some downsides, one of which is less freedom than that which is enjoyed by owner-occupiers.

"We can’t ever recommend hosting a fireworks party as a tenant. The risks are too great and it could end up costing you more money than it’s worth, so the first choice should always be a professional fireworks display. However, if you’re going to do it, safety is the primary concern. Don’t create a situation that will end up haunting you for the rest of your life, or drain your bank account of savings when you have to cough up for repairs.

"And as any journeyed tenant knows, maintaining good relations with your neighbours and landlord can be the difference between an easy life and a stressful one, so always go out of your way to keep them in the loop and to behave with compassion.”

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