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Do convents need to carry out fire risk assessments?

Guest Michael

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We act for a client that have a number of Convents nationwide.

Each Convent is classed as a domestic, residential premises and Sisters live together at the Convents as a family.

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, we would not need to undertake a Fire Risk Assessment at these Convents, as they are deeded “domestic premises.”

However, some of the Convents employ people (eg a cook, maintenance man, gardener, etc). Therefore under the H&S at Work Act, would there be an obligation to undertake a Fire Risk Assessment ? Some Convents employ over 5 people, some employ less than 5 people.

I hope you can help.

Kind regards.

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This is a difficult one, I do not accept it is a domestic premises as defined by the RR(FS)O, because they are not all members of the same family, but I see it as a shared occupancy which is also exempt from the RR(FS)O, as the result of a test case in the midlands. They are also not HMOs for purposes of the Housing Act (excluding Part 1), see schedule 14 providing they are occupied principally for the purposes of a religious community whose principal occupation is prayer, contemplation, education or the relief of suffering.

It is the second part that causes the problems, and my personal observation would be, if an owner occupier employs a cook and cleaner or a room is use as an office then the principle use is still a private single dwelling and exempt from the legislation. But if a large proportion of the premise is used as a business, the HASAWA and RR(FS)O would apply and risk assessment would be required. For me it would depend on the purpose these people were employed, for instance if it was for a retreat or people could use it like a boarding house, then the above legislation could apply.

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