Guide to Legislation and Guidance on Fire Safety in Privately Rented Residential Accommodation

Introduction

The RLA has updated its existing guidance to landlords on fire safety in residential accommodation. Guidance and legislation around Fire Safety is vast and complex and isn't always consistent. We have done this to try to make a very complex subject easier to understand, particularly by referring readers through to relevant guidance for their properties.

Provided landlords meet the guidance which applies to the property concerned, then you should fulfil your legal obligations. This guide is meant to be more in depth than our overview of fire safety which you can read here. This guide looks at legislation and guidance only. If you would like other fire prevention tips such as safety features and lifestyle tips for tenant safety please look at our fire safety overview document that you can download here. You can also view the RLA 'Safe and Secure home' for fire safety tips based on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) here.

In the boxes below we have set out examples of different types of residential property and then sign post you to the relevant guidance and regulations.

This Guide is specifically intended for residential accommodation which is rented out in the private rented sector.

This Guidance particularly focuses on guidance from LACORS which applies to existing buildings (except purpose built blocks of flats) and the Local Government Association (LGA) guidance on 'Fire safety in purpose - built blocks of flats'.

When looking at either LACORS Guidance or the LGA Guidance it is important that you consider the document as a whole.

The RLA has a 'Unique Property Selector' where you can find out more about different types of properties and your legal obligations by building and household type too.

For the purpose of this guide we will highlight LACORS in blue and the LGA 'Fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats' in red.

LACORS issued clarification of certain matters dealt with in the Guidance. The Guidance needs to be read in the light of this clarification document. To see the clarification click here - this deals with important issues such as whether hard wired alarms are needed.

Unless otherwise stated this Guide applies to both England and Wales.

What Are The Different Basic Fire Safety Rules For Private Rented Housing?

Certain basic rules apply:

Smoke Alarms

IMPORTANT NOTE - Universally from 1st October 2015 the law in England requires private landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy as well as installing carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with a solid fuel appliance. This is applicable across all property types so please take note of this. This is a minimum requirement and depending on the property type more extensive provision may be necessary. You can read our guide to Carbon Monoxide and Smoke detectors requirements from October 2015 here.

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

This applies to all types of privately rented housing. HHSRS is administered by local authorities and gives them powers to take action to enforce fire safety. It underpins guidance documents referred to in this Guide. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION SEE "WHAT IS HHSRS"? IN THE EXPLANATIONS SECTION.

As HHSRS applies universally it is not mentioned in the individual property scenarios looked at below. This is because provided you comply with the relevant guidance (the LACORS or LGA Guidance as applicable) then you should meet any requirements under HHSRS.

Fire Safety Order (FSO)

This applies to the common parts of multi occupied properties such as flats (purpose built or converted) and bedsits. THE FIRE SAFETY ORDER REQUIRES A RISK ASSESSMENT TO BE CARRIED OUT IN THESE PROPERTIES, I.E. PROPERTIES THAT HAVE COMMON COMMUNAL AREAS. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION SEE THE SECTION "THE FIRE SAFETY ORDER" IN THE EXPLANATIONS SECTION.

HMO Management Regulations

These Regulations apply to all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), such as shared houses and bedsits. They set out various requirements including specific requirements relating to fire safety and HMO accommodation. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION SEE "HMO MANAGEMENT REGULATIONS" IN THE EXPLANATION SECTION.

Licensing

Three different types of licensing can be encountered, mandatory HMO licensing, additional HMO licensing and selective licensing. Where licensing operates then the licence sets out conditions, including conditions relating to fire safety. For example these may require fire precautions to be provided. Where the property is licensed it is therefore important that the licence holder reads and implements these conditions.

Carrying out work

Where building work is carried out at a property, or a property is converted into residential accommodation (including providing additional accommodation) the building regulations apply. The work that you do will be carried out in compliance with these regulations, particularly Approved Document Part B which sets out fire safety standards which are to be met. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION SEE BUILDING REGULATIONS IN THE EXPLANATIONS SECTION.

What legislation covers fire safety in different rental property types so that I can check that my properties are compliant with fire safety regulations?

This depends on the type of rental dwelling that you own and who occupies the property

Below are a number of scenarios to look through:

SINGLE HOUSES

These are houses (detached, semi detached or terraced houses) and bungalows occupied by persons living as a single household. This means either a single person or members of the same family who are living together. It will also include up to two unrelated persons. For more about who is a family see "What is single Occupancy" below.

Box 1

I own a Rented Single Household (family) Occupation - what applies to me?

Guidance:

See the LACORS Guidance which gives case studies for single occupancy house of one or two storeys; three or four storeys; and five or six storeys. (See Section 34 of the Guidance at Page 38 onwards).

Additionally you must comply with the following legislation:

A. The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 - see the Important Note at the beginning of this Guidance. You can read our Carbon Monoxide and Smoke detectors requirements from 2015 guide here.

AND if in a Selective Licensing Area

B. Licensing Conditions - see the terms of your licence issued to you by the local authority

SHARED HOUSES

With a shared house the whole property is rented out to an identifiable group of three or more sharers, e.g. students or work colleagues as joint tenants. Each occupant has their own bedroom but they share facilities such as kitchen, living room, bathroom and toilet. All of the tenants must have legal possession and control of all parts of the house, including the bedrooms. The definition of a shared house is considered in detail in Paragraphs 35.1 to .6 of the LACORS Guidance. If the property meets this definition the Fire Safety Order (FSO) does not apply. However, if this is not the case the FSO applies, i.e. where rooms are individually let to different tenants.

Box 2

I own a Rented Shared house occupied on Joint tenancy - what applies to me?

Guidance:

See the LACORS Guidance at Paragraph 35 (Page 39 onwards) examples are given of shared houses of up to two storeys; three or four storeys and five or six storeys;).

Additionally you must comply with the following:

A. The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 - see the Important Note at the beginning of this Guidance

B. HMO Management Regulations - see Section on Management Regulations below.

C. Licensing Conditions if applicable - these apply where the property is subject to mandatory or additional HMO licensing - See the terms of your licence issued to you by the Local Authority.

BEDSITS (NON SELF CONTAINED ACCOMMODATION)

These are buildings consisting of separate non self contained bedsit or lets by floors. Each bedsit or letting will be to separate individuals with each having their own individual tenancy agreement. Usually there will be a lock on individual letting room doors.

Box 3

I own a Bedsit house occupied by 3 or more persons - what applies to me?

See Page 43 onwards - Paragraph 36 of the LACORS Guidance: This Guidance applies to different bedsit type HMOs and with up to two storeys; three and four storeys; and five and six storeys.

Additionally you must comply with the following:

A. The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 - see Important Note at the beginning of this Guidance.

B. Fire Safety Order 2005. A FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT IS REQUIRED FOR BED SIT ACCOMMODATION - SEE BELOW UNDER "FIRE SAFETY ORDER" IN THE EXPLANATIONS SECTION FOR WHERE A RISK ASSESSMENT IS REQUIRED. YOU AS LANDLORD ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CARRYING THIS OUT, OR GETTING A FIRE SAFETY EXPERT TO DO THIS FOR YOU. YOU MUST ALSO ENSURE THAT THE GENERAL FIRE SAFETY PRINCIPLES ARE ADHERED TO IN RELATION TO THE ACCOMMODATION. THIS INCLUDES THE COMMON PARTS AND SHARED ACCOMMODATION, E.G. KITCHENS

C. HMO Management Regulations

AND if requiring a Mandatory or Additional HMO Licence

D. Licensing Conditions - see the terms of the licence issued to you by the local authority.

PURPOSE BUILT FLATS AND MODERN BUILDING REGULATION COMPLIANT CONVERTED FLATS

This section deals with self contained flats with all their own amenities behind their front door which are purpose built.

This section applies to flats which were originally built as such. In certain circumstances the same guidance is applicable to converted flats but only where the conversion was carried out in accordance with the 1991 or later building regulations and is still compliant with these regulations - see below in the Explanations Section.

Below are a number of scenarios if you own in purpose built blocks of flats (or converted buildings so long as they comply with the 1991 or later building regulations) or individual self contained flats in purpose built blocks or conversions which are compliant with 1991 or later Building Regulations.

Box 4

I rent out individual flats which I own where I also own the purpose built block/house containing the flats - what are my responsibilities in respect of the block?

Guidance:

The LGA Guidance on Purpose Built Blocks of Flats provides guidance for blocks and this should be adhered to.

THE FIRE SAFETY ORDER 2005 REQUIRES A FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT TO BE CARRIED OUT IN BLOCKS OF FLATS OR A BUILDING CONTAINING COMMON PARTS OF TWO OR MORE DWELLINGS. This is primarily directed to the common parts of the block but needs to take into account conditions in the individual flats themselves. The duty is on the "responsible person" who will generally be the person responsible for controlling the common parts. In this situation as you rent out both individual flats and own the block you will be treated as the "responsible person".

You also need to be aware of the need for fire alarms on each floor - see the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms (England) Regulations 2015 - see Important Note at the beginning of this Guide.

Note: This also applies to individual converted flats compliant with 1991 or later Building Regulations.

Individual flats in purpose built blocks

This Section applies to individual flats in purpose built blocks or converted blocks which are compliant with the 1991 or later Building Regulations. It covers both individual flats which you own in a block which is owned/controlled by someone else, as well as a block where you own the whole block.

Box 5

I rent out an individual flat (whether in someone else's block or in a block which I own). The flat is in single occupancy; not multiple occupancy. What are my responsibilities for the individual flat?

Guidance:

RLA GUIDANCE ON FIRE SAFETY IN INDIVIDUAL PURPOSE BUILT FLATS

The RLA has published its own guidance on fire safety for individual flats, based on the LGA Guidance. This explains in detail your responsibilities. You can read that guide in full here.

Additionally, you must comply with the following-

  • The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 - See Important Note at the beginning of this Guidance. You can read our guide on Carbon Monoxide and Smoke detectors requirements from October 2015 here.

Box 6

I rent out an individual flat (whether in someone else's block or in a block which I own) but the flat is in multiple occupation. What are my responsibilities for the individual flat?

If the individual flat is rented out as a flat in multiple occupation please refer to the section on flats in multiple occupation below.

If you are a leaseholder then please do ensure that you are compliant with any improvements that the freeholder may request to improve fire safety. Under the Fire Safety Order there is a duty of co-operation. This may also be required by the terms of your lease.

CONVERTED FLATS

These are buildings converted into self contained flats.

This section applies to houses or buildings converted into self contained flats where the conversion did not (and still does not) meet the building standards under the Building Regulations 1991 (or later versions of the Building Regulations)

Buildings which were converted to a standard complying with the 1991 Building Regulations (or later Building Regulations) and which still meet them are not included within this section but are treated as if they were purpose built flats - see Boxes 4 and 5 above. They will not normally require additional fire safety measures over and above Building Regulation requirements unless occupied in a manner other than intended under the original conversion scheme. Flats in converted blocks which do comply with the 1991 or later Building Regulations are subject to the same guidance as purpose built blocks of flats, in practice, i.e. the LGA Guidance.

NB: AS IS THE CASE WITH PURPOSE BUILT BLOCKS THE FIRE SAFETY ORDER 2005 REQUIRES A RISK ASSESSMENT TO BE CARRIED OUT IN BLOCKS OF FLATS OR ANY OTHER BUILDING CONTAINING COMMON PARTS WITH TWO OR MORE UNITS. The General Fire Safety Principles also apply.

The duty to carry out the risk assessment is placed on the "responsible person" - FOR FURTHER INFORMATION SEE "FIRE SAFETY ORDER" IN THE EXPLANATIONS SECTION.

The Fire Service are responsible for enforcing the fire safety duty to carry out risk assessments.

Converted blocks of flats

This is about the block as a whole as well as individual flats in it.

To help decide which guidance is applicable please answer the following questions:-

1.Does the block contain any flats in multiple occupation?

No - see next question.

Yes - for fire precautions in individual flats see Box 10 below regarding flats in multiple occupation.

However, as regards the block itself you need to carry on with this section, because it still applies although there are additional requirements relating to the individual flats themselves.

2.Does the conversion comply with current Building Regulations (1990 or later Building Regulations)? Yes - see Boxes 4 and 5 above about purpose built blocks of flats and individual single occupancy flats but if any of the flats are flats in multiple occupation see Box 10 below relating to "flats in multiple occupation".

No - see next question.

3.Does the block exceed six storeys in height?

Yes - there is no specific guidance. You will need to take advice from an experienced fire safety assessor.

No - if the block is six storeys or less in height see next question.

4. Are more than one third of the flats in the block privately rented out? No - See Box 7 below for the block.

See Box 9 below regarding individual flats in single occupancies.

Yes - As the block is not compliant with 1991 or later Building Regulations and more than one third of the flats are privately rented out this is a Section 257 HMO. See Box 8 below for the block.

Box 7

I am responsible for a converted block of flats which is non compliant with modern building regulations but which is not a Section 257 HMO. What should I do?

Guidance:

LACORS Guidance (where the block is no more than six storeys in height) at Paragraph 37 on page 46.

Additionally you must comply with the following:

Fire Safety Order 2005 - A FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT IS NEEDED IN RELATION TO THE COMMON PARTS

NB: There is also a minimum requirement for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on each floor - see Box 9 below.

Box 8

I am responsible for a converted blocks of flats which are Section 257 HMO. What should I do?

Guidance:

LACORS Guidance (assuming that there are no more than six storeys in the block) - See Paragraph 37 on Page 46.

Additionally you must comply with the following:

A. Fire Safety Order 2005 - A FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT NEEDED IN RELATION TO THE COMMON PARTS

B. HMO Management Regulations

AND if in Additional Licensing area where the Additional Licensing Scheme applies to Section 257 HMOs.

C. Licensing Conditions - see the terms of the licence issued by the Local Authority.

NB: There is also a minimum requirement for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on each floor - see Box 9 below.

Which Guidance applies?

You can see the guidance for common parts of converted flats in LACORS guide by clicking here. Guidance is given at Paragraph 37, Page 46 .

Case studies include two storey buildings converted into self contained flats; three and four storeys; and five or six storey buildings which have been converted in this way.

This Guidance also gives guidance in relation to individual flats within the block.

Box 9

I rent out individual self-contained flats in converted blocks in single occupation which are non compliant with 1991 or later building regulations. What are my responsibilities?

You should refer to the LACORS Guidance at Part D Paragraph 37, page 46 onwards.

Additionally you must comply with:

A. The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 - see Important Notice at the beginning of this Guidance.

AND if in Selective Licensing Area

B. Licensing Condition - see terms of the licence issued by the Local Authority.

INDIVIDUAL FLATS IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION

This is any self contained flat which is occupied by three or more persons who do not form a single household, i.e. not occupied by the same family. It applies whether the flats are purpose built or converted.

Box 10

I rent out an individual flat (or maisonette on two floors) which is in multiple occupation. What are my responsibilities?

The Guidance is at Paragraph 38, page 49 of the LACORS Guidance. There are case studies for flats in multiple occupation requiring a single storey and two storeys/maisonettes.

Note - the LACORS Guidance refers to travel distance not being excessive. Under modern building regulations this is up to nine metres but the LGA Guidance indicates that up to 12 metres may be considered acceptable. Certainly above this distance a 30 minute protected route (including FD30S Doors) within the flat itself should be considered.

Additionally you must comply with:

A. The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 - see Important Note at the beginning of this Guidance.

B. HMO Management Regulations

AND if in Additional HMO or Selective Licensing Area

C. Licensing Conditions - see the terms of the licence issued by the Local Authority

Back to Back Houses

These houses typically back directly onto one another with a party wall and have other houses on either wide. This means that there is only one exit from the house. There are around 25,000 of these houses particularly in Yorkshire and the Midlands.

Box 11

I rent out a back to back house. What are my responsibilities relating to fire safety?

Specific guidance for back to backs is at Paragraph 39 of the LACORS Guidance starting at Page 50. There is an example of three storey back to back properties

EXPLANATIONS

Converted Flats - Applicable Guidance

The scope of the LGA Guidance document on purpose built flats strictly excludes buildings converted into blocks of flats. However, it does say that the guidance contained in this document will largely be applicable to such converted buildings provided that, at the time of conversion, the work was carried out in accordance with their current building regulations. The LACORS Guidance is applicable to converted flats which do not comply with 1991 (or later) Building Regulations.

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

Local authorities also use the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) for enforcement action which covers Fire Safety for all housing types so please also be aware of this. HHSRS underpins all guidance applicable in all residential accommodation. By complying with the Guidance referred to throughout this Guide you should then become compliant with requirements which could be made under HHSRS. Non compliance can mean that an improvement notice is served on you requiring work to be carried out. You can find out more about HHSRS and Fire Safety Here - https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/housing_act/link-docs/HHSRS.shtml

Fire Safety Order

Where a building is multi occupied with common parts the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 (FSO) requires a fire risk assessment to be carried out. This is primarily directed at fire safety in the common parts but needs to take into account conditions in the individual flats/units themselves. The FSO places this duty on the "responsible person". This will generally speaking be the person responsible for controlling the common parts. This can include the freeholder, landlord of the block, a Right to Manage Company, or a Residents Management Company and can also include managing agents contracted to act on behalf of any of the above.

If you rent out flats but own the whole block then you will be the person responsible. On the other hand, you may own a flat in a block which is owned/controlled by someone else, e.g. the freeholder.

You need to be sure whether you are the leaseholder or freeholder. The responsibility for the "common parts" fire safety is either the freeholder or landlord or manager of the block who has responsibility for that part of the premises. You must establish this so you are clear in your mind what is your responsibility.

Generally the Fire Service are responsible for enforcement of fire safety in communal areas of blocks of flats and enforcement to see that fire risk assessments being carried out correctly.

If you are the "responsible person" you must ensure that the general fire safety precautions under the Fire Safety Order are adhered to - see below.

These require:

  • Measures to reduce the risk of fire and the risk of spread of fire.
  • Measures to provide means of escape and that it can be safely and effectively used.
  • Means for fighting fires.
  • Means to detect fires and give warnings.
  • Measures to be taken in the event of fire, including instruction, training and to mitigate the effects of fire.

In the light of Grenfell Tower we would advise that in the case of purpose built blocks of flats and in particular High Rise Tower Blocks (usually above six storeys in height) that you have an independent and accredited Fire Risk Assessor do the Risk Assessment for you. The Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council has produced 'A Guide to Choosing a Competent Fire Risk Assessor' which you might find useful.

Fire Risk Assessments

Can anyone carry out a fire risk assessment even if they are not obliged to, even if they don't own flats or bedsits and they just want to reassure myself and my tenant(s)?

The RLA generally advise that yes you can but only if you have sufficient experience/training. If you have a dwelling that is considered a 'single occupancy' you may be able to do a fire risk assessment yourself. However, if you own any HMO or 'Purpose Built blocks' then we would advise that getting a specialist fire risk assessor may be more appropriate to comply with the Fire Safety Order 2005.

A Landlord could carry out the risk assessment him/herself provided they were competent to do so but otherwise a consultant or other suitable person with the necessary competence would have to be engaged. In relatively simple premises the Government believe that a landlord, properly applying themselves should be able to manage the risk assessment for a single dwelling.

We advise that landlords should be having a Risk Assessment conducted at least yearly and they should review this whenever a new tenancy starts. If you are legally obliged to carry out a fire risk assessment you need to ask yourself whether there is a change in circumstances which might necessitate a review of the risk assessment. This might be if the needs of your current tenants change and you let to tenants who may have more complex needs, for example if your tenant has a disability.

If you rent properties deemed as 'Single Occupancy' and you feel that you want to do your own Fire Risk Assessment would like to carry out your own Fire Risk Assessment we would recommend that you take a look at the Government Risk Assessment guide here:

You can also download a useful checklist here.

The RLA also has a Risk Assessment Guide that you can download here.

The Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council has produced 'A Guide to Choosing a Competent Fire Risk Assessor' which you might find useful.

Local Variations

Please bear in mind that the way in which Fire Safety regulations are actually applied varies from Local Authority area to Local Authority area, which is why it is such a complex topic to advise on. If you are in any doubt please contact the Local Authority where your properties are located for further help. Various local authorities have published their own guidance. In particular, as the lay out design of different types of houses varies from area to area there may be local guidance which could be enforced under HHSRS depending on the circumstances.

Building Regulations - Works to Properties

Building Regulations PART B will apply if you are having any work done to any of your properties so please be aware of this. This includes changes of use and alterations to the property. You can find out more about PART B building Regulations here - https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/housing_act/docs/all/building_regs_and_fire_safety.shtml.

You may also want to look at the DCLG Fire Safety : Approved Document B in relation to Building Regulations although this could be subject to change following the fire at Grenfell Tower. You can read it here.

Compliance with 1991 or later Building Regulations in flats

In this Guide there are reference to compliance with Building Regulations 1991 or later. The Building Regulations 1991 came into force on 1st June 1992. They do not apply where before that date a building notice was given to the local authority or full plans were deposited with the local authority under earlier Building Regulations and work was carried out after that date in accordance with any such notice or plans. Instead the earlier 1985 Building Regulations (or their predecessors) apply.

HMOs and Properties in HMO and Selective Licensing Areas

We are advising all of our members that have properties that are subject to a mandatory HMO licensing or which are in designated Selective or Additional HMO Licensing areas meet all of their licencing conditions regarding fire safety measures, otherwise you could be prosecuted or have your license revoked. This is because again licensing conditions can vary across local authority areas. You can refer to the RLAs fire safety guide for more information (https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/housing_act/firesafety.shtml?zoom_highlight=fire+safety )

You can also access the RLA guide to HMO licence conditions here.

Management Regulations for HMOs

These apply to all HMOs. Additionally, they apply in common parts of blocks of flats which are termed "Section 257 HMOs". A converted block of flats is a Section 257 HMO where:

  • The conversion did not take place in accordance with 1991 or subsequent building regulations; and
  • More than one third of the flats in the converted block are rented out.

A purpose built block of flats cannot be a Section 257 HMO. If the conversion was carried out in accordance with 1991 or later building regulations then it is not a Section 257 HMO even if more than one third of the flats in the block are rented out in the private rented sector.

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 and The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 place requirements on the managers of all HMOs (whether licensable or not) in respect of fire safety.

  • The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation apply to converted blocks of flats to which section 257 of the Housing Act 2004 applies.
  • The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 apply to all other HMOs.

The purpose of the management regulations is not to require additional fire safety precautions but to ensure that existing precautions are properly maintained.

Regulation 4 (5) places specific duties on managers of HMOs in respect of fire safety. The manager must ensure that:

  • all means of escape from fire in the HMO are kept free from obstruction and maintained in good order and repair;
  • any fire fighting equipment and fire alarms are maintained in good working order; and
  • all notices indicating the location of means of escape from fire are displayed in positions within the HMO that enable them to be clearly visible to the occupiers (unless the HMO has four or fewer occupiers).

Regulation 10 (11) places specific duties on occupiers of HMOs in respect of fire safety. Every occupier of the HMO must:

  • conduct themselves in a way that will not hinder or frustrate the manager in the performance of their duties;
  • allow the manager, for any purpose connected with the carrying out of any duty imposed on them
  • by these regulations and at all reasonable times, to enter any living accommodation or other place
  • occupied by that person;
  • provide the manager, at their request, with any such information as they may reasonably require for the purpose of carrying out their duties;
  • take reasonable care to avoid causing damage to anything that the manager is under a duty to supply, maintain or repair under these regulations; and
  • comply with the reasonable instructions of the manager in respect of any means of escape from
  • fire, the prevention of fire and the use of fire equipment.

New Build Properties in Wales

If you own any new build properties in Wales please also take note that the law changed in January 2016 and there is now a legal requirement for the installation of sprinklers in all new and converted houses and flats.* You can find out more here - http://gov.wales/topics/planning/buildingregs/publications/videos-on-part-l-and-b/?lang=en

High Rise Tower Blocks

The definition for these purposes of a high rise block is a block which is more than 18 metres above ground level - usually over six storeys in height. There has been a lot of talk in the press about Compartmentation in high rise tower blocks like Grenfell. If you own a flat in a high rise tower block that is managed by either the Council, Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO), Housing Association or other landlord or management company in the case of privately owned high rise blocks they will need to check that ,

  • The high degree of fire separation between flats and the common parts is achieved by making each flat a fire-resisting enclosure. The fire resistance of this construction is such that, normally, a fire should burn itself out before spreading to other parts of the building.

The building's elements of structure are required to possess sufficient fire resistance when exposed to a fire of predicted severity to not only prevent fire-spread, but also to prevent structural collapse.

Changes to flats

The fire-resisting enclosure of flats must be maintained to all openings, including:

  • flat entrance and other doors
  • any internal windows into the access corridor, or any glazing above or around the flat entrance door
  • openings in walls and floors for services, such as water, gas and electricity
  • vents into shared air supply ducts, but, more commonly, shared extract ducts from bathrooms and sometimes kitchens

Please ensure that you work with the management of the building to ensure that these safety precautions are in place. even if it is not your legal responsibility. We recommend full cooperation.

Evacuation strategies

Strategies are either the simultaneous evacuation immediately a fire breaks out anywhere in the block or stay put. Where a stay put policy is in force only the flat and any flats immediately adjoining which are threatened should evacuate and the other residents should "staty put" in their flats. The evacuation strategy of the fire at Grenfell Tower was the 'Stay Put' principle based on the Compartmentation of the high rise tower. Although not yet clear with the fire spreading so quickly at Grenfell whether this was the correct approach, this principle may be called into question in the light of recent events.

We would advise Landlords who have tenants in high rise blocks that they do not own or manage themselves to contact the local Fire Service and Local Authority who may be reviewing their evacuation policies at this time of high rise blocks of flats to seek advice to pass on to their tenants.

These principles are not just applicable to High Rise Tower blocks - if you have a flat / apartment in a purpose built building we recommend that you look at the Local Government Association's guide to 'Fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats'. http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Fire%20safety%20in%20purpose%20built%20flats.pdf

Furniture

I own a flat or house which is rented out furnished (fully or partly) - what else do I need to do?

If you are a landlord who provides furniture or furnishings it is your responsibility to ensure that any furniture or furnishings which you provide comply with the Furniture Safety Regulations . You can read the RLA guide on Fire safety for furniture and furnishings here.

Single Occupancy

In this Guide we refer to flats in single occupancy, i.e. a flat occupied by a family.

Family includes people who are married or living together as if married (including those in same sex relationships). It means specific relatives, grandparents, parents, children and step-children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins as well as foster children.

Duty to co-operate

The Fire Safety Order applicable in blocks of flats imposes a duty on anyone who has to any extent control of the premises so far as requirements under the order relate to matters within his or her control. If you are under an obligation under your lease in relation to the maintenance or repair of any premises (including anything on the premises) or the safety of any premises you are treated for these purposes as having control. In other words, for example, if you are responsible for the repair/maintenance of the flat's front door since this is an integral part of the compartmentalisation of the building as a whole you can be required under the Fire Safety Order to take the necessary steps. Alternatively, action can be taken under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System to enforce compliance.

Co-operation in Blocks of Flats

If you are a flat owner/leaseholder in a block of flats owned by another body / management company then please ensure that you are compliant with any improvements that the freeholder may request to improve fire safety.

In addition, landlords should

  • make sure that all the gas appliances they provide are maintained in good order and that a 'GasSafe' registered engineer carries out a safety check each year
  • maintain all electrical installations (ie fixed wiring) and any electrical appliances they provide (ie cookers, kettles) and make sure they are safe to use
  • make sure any furniture and furnishings they provide meet the fire resistance regulations.

You can find more practical tips for Fire Safety in our 'Overview of Fire Safety' document here and our 'Safe and Secure home' has useful tips too.

Appendix - Applicable legislation

You can find out more about all of the regulations and legislation included in this guide here:

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Landlord Broadband
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