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Guest Vish

Fire exit that opens onto a private balcony

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Guest Vish

Hi,

I live in a flat which is on the top floor of 4 storey block. There is a wrap-around balcony (facing out onto a canal) and at one end there is a door that opens out into a stairwell which is marked as this fire exit. The door itself is not marked as a fire exit but has a push bar entry from the stairwell onto my balcony. There was previously a lock on the door, but after a recent fire assessment, the lock was removed. The management company has said this is because the door is a fire exit. It is not clear to me how this is the case as the door leads from the stairwell onto my balcony (which under the terms of my lease is clearly part of my property and not a shared area) and there is nowhere for someone escaping from a fire to go once they are on the balcony. 

The issue became a safety issue when a random person pushed through the door and ended up on my balcony. The door shut behind them and there was no way for this person to get back other than through my property. I subsequently put a bolt on the door but the management company has said I have to remove this as the door is a fire exit. Is this correct? Do I have to allow my property to be accessibly to anyone in the building in this manner, particularly when there is nowhere for people to go once they get onto the balcony (other than into my flat).

Many thanks in advance for your help.

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I'd be surprised if it was as well. If your lease doesn't include an easement for this usage and there is no deed of variation for escape access you can keep it locked in the short term whilst you sort it out.

If a recent build I'd ask to see the fire strategy that contains this route and the proof of Building Control approval. I'd also ask the fire service for advice - fire regulations require premises to have escape routes not requiring fire service assistance and a 4th floor dead end balcony requiring the fire service to come along with ladders or an aerial platform would not meet this criteria.

I'd also ask for a copy of the fire risk assessment - it may not be suitable and sufficient - just because a panic bolt has been fitted doesn't make it a fire exit, I've seen doors that are definitely not part of an escape route with panic bolts on.

Of course it could be as simple as the panic bolts having been fitted on the wrong side of the door and that they should be on your side giving you emergency access to the shared stair (possibly as you may have a flat internal layout requiring the second route)

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Guest AK13

Was your concern resolved amicably? I am currently looking to buy an apartment in NYC with a similar situation - the supposed door with push bar from the stairwell opens into this property's terrace. The agent doesn't quite know why that is the case but suspects it might be a requirement in the old fire safety code (the building is a pre-war).

Any comments much appreciated.

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I am assuming NYC stands for New York City and with the terminology used, it sounds that you must be from over the pond. As I have much difficulty understanding UK legislation to get involved with USA legislation, is a strict NO NO for me and most I would think in this forum.

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Hi  AK13, I am sorry to say, but I very much doubt you will get a reply from "Vish" (The person who started this thread) as he posed the question 2 years ago 😒, and has never been back and in the vague chance he did reply, as Tom points out, this is a United Kingdom based forum, so our rules / regulations would not apply in America 😑

I wish you luck in your search. 🙂

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