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Guest SophieLingh

When selling flat, do I need a fire risk assessment?

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Guest SophieLingh

Hi, I'm about to sell my flat and the solicitor is asking me for a Fire Risk Assessment as there is a communal area. is this really needed?

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The common areas of all blocks/buildings of flats require a fire risk assessment (FRA) and the Responsible Person (RP) or Persons are required to provide it. But not all FRA's need to be recorded this will depend on how the common areas of the building is managed, consequently there may not be a written FRA. If your building does not require a written FRA how can you give it to the solicitor. I need more information on the extent of your ownership and the freehold because the owner/freeholder of the common areas has to employ five or more persons to be required to have a written FRA.

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I too am selling my flat which is one of six flats owned jointly freehold. They are two Victorian terraced properties comprising 6 flats with two communal front doors for the upper flats. My lower ground floor flat has it's own separate entrance independent of the communal areas. Am I still required to provide a fire and asbestos risk report to the buyer's solicitor?

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I do not know about the asbestos risk report but I may be able to give you some pointers on the Fire Risk Assessment (FRA).

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 designates a person or persons as the Responsible Person (RP), who has a duty to implement articles 8 to 24 of the order.

Article 3 says if the premises is a workplace then the employer is the RP if it is not, the owner or person in control of the premises (managing company) is the RP.

The RP under article 5 has to conduct a FRA, so depending how you and the rest of the freeholders manage the fabric of the building and the common areas you are the RP’s and have to conduct a FRA.

However article 9 states that if you employ five or more employees you have to record the information. Now as you do not employ anybody, other than employees and the self-employed from outside undertakings, which is covered by article 20, you are not required to record the findings. There are some doubts if the building is managed by a managing company and they employ 5 or more people.

Sorry to be so long winded but this but the point is, how are you going to give a recorded FRA report if you do not have one, give verbal one?

Check out http://www.firesafe.org.uk/regulatory-reform-fire-safety-order-2005/ and http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/1541/contents/made and they may be usful.

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Guest jegpad

Thank you Tom. I see what you mean, a verbal report is all that would be required in my instance. There is nobody employed by the Freehold Company of our block of six flats, indeed the Company Secretary is one of the freeholders and does all our accounts for free. It may be that I am exempt as I have a self contained flat, but the likelihood is the solicitors are still going to insist on a report. Anticipating this I have lined up ASI Environmental to carry out two surveys, one for fire, one for asbestos, at a cost of £220 inc VAT per survey. Pretty rich pickings for surveying a couple of lobbies no bigger than a telephone box! But this will furnish the Freehold Company with written reports which can be useful for any freeholder who encounters such red tape in the future.

Thanks again for the links and information.

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Guest jegpad

An update Tom...

​It was determined by a company who conducts such inspections ( and also through solicitors that my property turned out not to need any assessments because a separate front door was used to access the property, without having to pass through any common areas. Just a tip for others who may face this ridiculous red tape.

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I can understand, as the RR(FS)O does not apply to a domestic premises and terminates at the front door, only the common areas will apply. However you are required to cooperate, if necessary, with other tenants, where there could be common areas and a FRA may be required this is because you are a freeholder of the building.

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Can anyone help me please?

I live in a Victorian conversion which is made up of three owner occupied flats. Between the three flats we all own an equal share in the company that owns the freehold. Therefore, we are all essentially the landlords of the building living in the building. There is a communal front door and hallway in the house. There is no one employed to work on/in the building.

Do we require a Fire Risk Assessment even though we are all landlords of the property?

The reason I ask is that I am in the process of selling my flat and my buyer's solicitor has requested this information in the Leaseholders Property Enquiries (LPE1) form but we have never had one and have never been requested to provide one by our insurers.

Thanks very much for any help provided.

Tim

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As joint owners of the building you are the Responsible Person (RP) as stated in Article 3.b of the The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Under article 5.2 you are required to implementate article 8 to 22 which includes a fire risk assessment. Because you do not employ 5 or more person the FRA need not be recorded but you need to complete one.

Check out http://www.firesafe.org.uk/regulatory-reform-fire-safety-order-2005/and http://www.firesafe.org.uk/fire-risk-assessment/

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Guest Andreia Guilherme

Dear Tom,

I hope you can help me understand if I need a Fire Risk Assessment or not as I'm in the process of selling my flat and the buyer's solicitor have requested a FRA.

I live in a Victorian conversion building which is made up of three occupied flats, but only one is owner occupied (mine), the other two are rented.

I'm not sure if I need to provide a FRA as I'm not sure if we are considered a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) for the following reasons:

This is a three storey building where the ground floor flat as a separate entrance (directly from the street) and only the remaining two share a communal door, landings and stairway. My flat is the middle one (1st floor flat). So only two tenants share the same communal areas, but three tenants share the building.

The ground floor flat is leasehold but the 1st floor and 2nd floor are share of freehold, therefore we are landlords of the building. We don't have a management company and there is no one employed to work in the building.

Do we need to provide a FRA or even complete one, or can we simply explain to the solicitors that we are not legally required to provide one so we are not going to provide one?

Thanks very much in advance.

Andreia

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Flats are domestic dwelling and not subject to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 but the common areas are. The owners/freeholders are the Responsible Persons (RP) for the common areas and are required to instigate a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) under the above order. If less than five persons are employed then the FRA does not need to be recorded (by use of a document or other means). House in Multiple Occupation are subject to another piece of legislation Housing Act 2004.

As nobody is employed and you do not need to record the FRA I am not sure what the solicitor wants? Does he want you to repeat to him the details of the FRA anything else it would have to be recorded which you do not have to do.

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Further to the above, as I said there is no need to record the FRA in this case but a FRA is required by the RR(FS)O and the significant findings have to be implemented. The recording of the FRA is such a minor thing I think I would record the findings and add how I dealt with the significant findings to assist the enforcing authority and it would keep solicitors off your back.

Check out http://www.firesafe.org.uk and http://www.firesafe.org.uk/fire-risk-assessment/

​There are other publications that would help.

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Guest Andreia Guilherme

Dear Tom,

Thank you very much for your reply and sorry for the delay.

I would take your advice and record the findings myself, I've been searching the web for a appropriate template for the communal entrance / staircase of a block of flats but all the templates I find seem to be very extensive and complicated. Do you know any template appropriate for this that I could use?

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Guest ACN

Hi I am selling my flat.  it is in a Regency Listed Building.  There are 3 flats in total and they used to all be owner occupied.  The ground floor is now rented out.  We do not have a management company and we (the three flat owners) own the Freehold of the building together.  I am being told that I need a fire risk assessment.  However, I see back in 2012 you referred to the LACoRS document.  In that, it says we only count as an HMO if over 1 third of the flats are privately rented.  Is that still right and does it mean that I do not need a fire risk assessment, but my purchaser does if he wants to let our the property?

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If it is a HMO then it is under the Housing Act 2004 but the common areas of all flats are subject to Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which requires you implement articles 8 to 22 which includes, to conduct a fire risk assessment in the common areas and the guidance is LACoRS document.

The three flat owners will be the Responsible Person under the order.

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Guest Luisa

Hi Tom,

Very helpful thread, thank you.

I am also selling a flat with common area only FRA. I am a little confused when identifying who is at risk. The common area is access to the flats and therefore to areas people sleep, yet I am not assessing the flats and nobody sleeps in the common area. I would presume i would include them as the common area directly affects their escape, is this correct? The second point is, do I need to identify the number of people at risk? Currently there are 7 permanent occupiers but one has a partner over to stay occasionally and what happens if someone has a guest over to stay a week or has a party - that could be quite a number of extra people at risk...?

Your help is much appreciated :)

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Flat occupants are 'relevant persons' to be considered in an FRA as a fire in the premises will affect them. Not only do you consider how a fire in the common area (which is unlikely in purpose built blocks) affects those in the area and the flats of it, but how a fire in a flat will affect the common areas (& in turn other flats).

You can't give precise numbers at risk for the reasons you give, the number of flats is more realistically recordable (ideally details of how many bedrooms helps too)

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When identifying who is at risk, you must consider all relevant persons who have access to the common areas; this includes the tenants, all visitors.

The legal definition of relevant persons, means any person (including the responsible person) who is or may be lawfully on the premises and any person in the immediate vicinity of the premises who is at risk from a fire on the premises, but does not include a firefighter who is carrying out his duties in relation to a function of a fire and rescue authority under section 7, 8 or 9 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 (fire-fighting, road traffic accidents and other emergencies), other than in relation to a function under section 7(2)(d), 8(2)(d) or 9(3)(d) of that Act. 

Calculating the number of person likely to be present is an educated estimation but as a standard inward opening door and/or staircase could evacuate approximately 60 then you do have large safety factor. 

It appears to be converted premises therefore the guidance will be HOUSING – FIRE SAFETY Guidance on fire safety provisionsfor certain types of existing housing 

The legal definition of relevant persons can be found in article 2 of the The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

PS Wrote this before seeing AB's but decided to submit anyway although it says similar things.

 

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Guest Emma Parslow

Hi Tom

i am currently the owner of the freehold to a victorian building with contains 2 maisonette flats to which one of the flats i live in and the other is owned by someone else.

i am selling mine and have been asked to provide a FRA. Can you confirm if i need to do this for the building or the communal area which is 2m x 2m square. 

Thanks.

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As owner (freeholder) the law requires you to conduct a FRA and the size of the common area is immaterial, but if you do not employ 5 or more persons, then the FRA does not have to be recorded.

What exactly does the person who is asking for the FRA want, verbal response to the prescribed information? You could record the prescribed information, although you are not required to, this may simplify your position and may be easier than arguing the situation.

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

 

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Hey Tom thanks for the reply.

So our house is a 4 floor converted victorian house which I have the freehold, I also have the leasehold for the flat on the bottom 2 floors and someone else has the leasehold for the flat on the 2 top floors.

This is what the email is stating:

As a landlord of the property, there must be a risk assessment in place to comply with the Fire Safety Order. Landlords have certain legal obligations when it comes to fire safety and the protection of their properties and the people residing there. 

I am then told: its not as simple as having a few fire extinguishers and that fire safety largely depends on the the potential risks and different types of buildings. As a landlord because i own the freehold of the building, i have to carry out the risk assessment in all areas of my property and this will advise risks and any action to be taken.

The email goes on to say:

That I also need an asbestos assessment for the communal area.

Can you advise as i am so confused and have no idea how to do this and weather I need to provide a written report etc.. I did download a form that i found when reading through what other people had asked but not sure if i can use this. Its the   

Safelincs  FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT – Self Assessment 

Many Thanks

Emma

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Flats or maisonettes are domestic premises and are not subject to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 but the common areas are and the Responsible Person (RP) has to implement article 8 to 22 of order, which includes conducting a Fire Risk Assessment of the common areas.

The common areas are not a principle workplace so article 3a does not apply but article 3b does which states,

(i)                  the person who has control of the premises (as occupier or otherwise) in connection with the carrying on by him of a trade, business or other undertaking (for profit or not); 

(ii)                The owner, where the person in control of the premises does not have control in connection with the carrying on by that person of a trade, business or other undertaking.

As a freeholder you are the person who has control of the premises unless you use the services of a service or management company and therefore as the RP have certain legal obligations for the safety of relevant persons in your premises.

Amongst other things you do have to conduct a fire risk assessment and implement any significant findings. There are guidance documents to assist you and in your case the HOUSING – FIRE SAFETY Guidance on fire safety provisionsfor certain types of existing housing would be the appropriate document.

If you employ five or more persons you must record the significant findings of the assessment, including the measures which have been or will be taken by the responsible person pursuant to this Order and any group of persons identified by the assessment as being especially at risk. In your case it is unlikely you do not meet the above criteria and therefore you do not have to record the the FRA but you still have to conduct one.

There is no format for the FRA document which the safelincs is a good as any and you could amend it to suit your particular situation.

Check out http://www.firesafe.org.uk/fire-risk-assessment/

An asbestos assessment is outside the scope of the RR(FS)O and I am unable to assist on this matter.

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