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Guest LauraGibs

Do flat owners under their own management need fire risk assessment?

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Unfortunately Building Control, private and public, have a habit of passing unsatisfactory premises, after all there is no real sanction against them (unlike for the duty holder and their competent person under the Fire Safety Order).

A piece of paper doesn't change the fact that physically the doors are wrong - it's how they are mitigated is the issue. Now technically they should have been FD30S doors and the aspiration should be to make them so. However the guidance (linked by Tom above) allows a sympathetic approach for existing situations and from the number of flats I'm guessing that they are only a couple of storeys high. The guidance in this case would allow notional fire doors, but this refers to 1960's/70's style fire doors that are of a suitable material and thickness but use 25mm stops instead of intumescent seals and smoke brushes - your doors sound like they are not even notional doors.

The next step up from this is 'upgraded' FD30S doors. This usually means adding appropriate seals and closers to notional FD30 doors, but in your case it would be more akin to the 'Acts' upgrades of non fire doors in the 60's and 70's where the door leaf itself needs uprating - this was usually done with Asbestolux or Superlux boards affixed to the risk side - in heritage premises a similar upgrade is done with intumescent paints and papers.

You need to cost both upgrade and replacement and weigh up the pros and cons. Upgrading may be cheaper (but not always by a lot depending on the amount of works required) but depending on the method used may not be aesthetic and is not going to offer the same assurance as a factory built third party accredited new door set. Replacement will be costly, but aesthetic (there are some very decorative looking fire doors these days) and guaranteed to perform (if correctly installed)

 

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Further to what AB has said intumescent paints and papers are very susceptible to damage, especially in the domestic situation, consequently they would need checking more frequently than full FD30s doors, access to flats would not be easy and an addition cost.

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Guest Guest-Tom

I am a director of a freehold that contains 4 flats (one which I live in). Do i need to get an external body in to conduct a fire risk assessment? 

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Not necessarily, the legislation is not intended to be unduly burdensome and guidance is provided for responsible persons to conduct their own FRAs.

Having said that whoever does the FRA needs to be competent. In simple premises it could be the RP using the guides, where more complex the RP or an employee would need to have suitable training as well as the guides. Where the RP or their employees are not suitably competent then a suitable external contractor should be used, preferably one with third party certification such as BAFE SP205 or Warrington FIRAS.

Regardless of whoever does it you will need an FRA for the common parts of the block 

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Guest Tom

Hello

I'm sole freeholder of a 3 flat converted victorian. only common area is small hallway and stairs with landing. I'm I RP and do i have to obtain a fire safety certificate (I'm not sure there is a certain answer above), and are there companies that provide this at which cost? do you have some example or what i need to google for please? and lastly how often do i need to do this certificate please? many thanks, Tom

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The common area is subject to The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and requires a fire risk assessment. (FRA) You can do it yourself or use a fire risk assessor and choose one use A Guide to Choosing a Competent Fire Risk Assessor  or if you decide to do it yourself the following guidance will help. For prices you will have to contact the suitable fire risk assessor.

https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-risk-assessment-5-step-checklist

https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/fire-risk-assessments

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Any Fire Risk Assessment must be reviewed by the responsible person regularly so as to keep it up to date and particularly if -

(a) there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid;
or
(b) there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates including when the premises, special, technical and organisational measures, or organisation of the work undergo significant changes, extensions, or conversions,

 and where changes to an assessment are required as a result of any such review, the responsible person must make them.

Most FR assessors consider 12 months as being a reasonable time but not necessary.

 

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Guest Simon

Hi. I own a property which has 2 shops at grd floor and separate front door leading to communal staircase with 2 flats on the 1st and 2nd floor.  1st floor flats are being used as commercial offices. Do I need to link fire alarm system between the shop and flats. I'm concerned if there's a fire in the shop out of hours the residents won't know and egress could be hampered. There is a FA in the stairwell. 

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Depends on the structural separation. You need to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment for a definitive answer, without carrying one out on site I can't give a definitive answer.

Has the change of use of the flats had the correct planning and building control permissions?

https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200130/common_projects/50/shops

This would have in part looked at the issue (but not for the whole premises and not in place of an FRA)

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Guest Guest Sarah

Hello, I am selling my leasehold flat and the buyers solicitor has asked for a fire risk assessment and asbestos report for the communal areas.  The property is split into four flats and I own the basement flat with its own entrance. There is a communal front door and hall giving access to the upper three flats. There is a management company in place, which I think I have a share in.  Please can you tell me if I need to provide an assessment. As my flat has its own entrance I don't think I need it, is this correct?

Many thanks

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In England and Wales the commons areas of blocks of flats are subject to The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and require a fire risk assessment (FRA). The flats themselves are not subject to the RR(FS)O but The Housing Act 2004 which does not require a FRA.

As your flat does not have any commons areas what would you conduct the FRA on, it is most likely the management company are the Responsible Person, who are responsible for conducting the FRA anyway, you could ask them. Also in small premises if the RP employs less than five employees, there is no requirement to record the information, so what would you give them.

Do not know about the asbestos report, you will need to look elsewhere on that.


 

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Guest Tentpeg

Hi Tom,

I have recently taken over as the Chairman of a Residents Association for a block of flats built in 1991.  It has 22 flats over four floors, and the communal areas consist of the two stairwells and corridors, as well as areas for the lift access and foyers.  We also have an enclosed bins area, that everyone has acces to.  About 8 years ago a group of us bought the freehold and formed a company.  The Directors of the company are also members of the residents' association.   It has become apparent that we should have an FRA in place; my question is who pays for this?  The Freehold Company members each own shares of the lease, but the Resident's Association make the decisions on what work is conducted, running the accounts, booking the gardener and decides on decorating/work required, pays the buildings insurance, and allocates funds for the repairing of the lift etc.   

Can you advise on who would pick up the bill for the FRA?  Is it the responsibility of the Freehold Company or the Residents' Association in our case?

Thank you.

Tentpeg

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You require a lawyers expertise so you need to contact your solicitor for expert advice.

What I can tell you is the common areas of your building is subject to The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005  and require a fire risk assessment (FRA). The flats themselves are not subject to the RR(FS)O but The Housing Act 2004 which does not require a FRA.

First you must identify the Responsible Person or RP,s, (article 3) and they have duties under article 5 which include an FRA.

The RP is the owner/freeholder or a company working on their behalf providing they have full control. It is the RP who has to carry out the findings of the FRA but nowhere does it say who has to pay for it and the RP could transfer the costs to any other involved persons depending on contract or tenant agreements.

Quite often it is included in the service charge but that would depend on tenants agreements and in your case I would think the Freehold Company would be the RP and they would pass on instructions to the residents association.

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Guest Julie

Hi

I live in  block of 6 flats which are all own by leaseholder.  The communal area hand rail is used for drying clothes and leaving personal shoes outside.

Is this a fire risk if fire was to occur.  

Should the communal are not be kept clear at all time?  

Please advise

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It is possible to have managed use of the areas, but most flats follow the zero tolerance approach which is easier to police and so there should be nothing there. There are also possible H&S and liability issues too if stuff on a hand rail or shoes in the way causes a fall.

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