Fire Safety in Leasehold Flats

In respect of the communal parts of blocks of flats, such as the entrance hallway, stairwell, parking areas and even the roof, the person managing the building has a duty to carry out a fire risk assessment and an asbestos survey.

The person managing the building may be the freeholder, an intermediate landlord, a management company or managing agent.

A fire risk assessment is a requirement under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. What is required is an assessment of the risks posed in the event of a fire and measures identified to reduce those risks. An example of an identifiable risk would be the obstruction of a communal hallway by articles such as bikes. The recommendation that might follow is for the bikes to be stored elsewhere. The assessment may also highlight the need for emergency lighting and signs in the event that the power goes out during a night time emergency.

What a fire risk assessment needn’t concern is anything within the flats themselves. Therefore the assessment need not go so far as to cover smoke detectors in individual flats. One area that can cause confusion is the front doors to flats. They will almost certainly form part of the assessment even though they may not technically form part of the common parts of the building. If the doors belong to individual leaseholders the landlord may not have any obvious power to insist that they be upgraded and made fireproof. If the leaseholders refuse to upgrade their doors then the local fire authority has the power to force them to take action.

Written by Simon Masters

Senior Associate Solicitor

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