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FRR Act 2005 and common areas

Prof Adrian Brett

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 I own a garden/basement flat in a four storey Victorian house. It is entirely self-contained with its own private garden and private entrance with a rear door to the enclosed patio garden I have no access to the common areas that the other residents need to gain entrance: a stone staircase, a front door and a common hallway. I am also a joint freeholder. The 1st floor flat is owned by a non-resident freeholder who is also a private sector landlord. After a small electrical fire in the flat above me, attended by the local Fire and Rescue, I wrote to the local council expressing concerns about the fire risks in this flat and requesting an inspection, having previously written to the owner who did not reply. As it happened the local Fire and Rescue had also contacted the local council.

As a result of this I have been told by my council that, as a freeholder, I must contribute towards an expensive fire alarm system circa £3000. In their letter they quote the relevant paragraph from LACORS guide but have added words of their own in respect of whose responsibility this is vis a vis " to include the basement flat". As I understand the FRR Act 2005 it is only common areas that are subject to the act and furthermore that it is because the middle flat is let these fire alarms are needed.  More alarming still is the demand from the absent freeholder, who is the private landlord of the middle flat, that I pay towards a £6500 bill from UK Power to install a "landlord's meter " with a separate electricity supply which would require the excavation of the large concrete area in front of the house which I own.

I contend that as I have no access to common areas, do not even have a key to the main front door, and have a private entrance and rear exit my flat is completely safe.

I am awaiting a meeting with my solicitors but would welcome any input from this forum.

Thank you. 

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As a joint freeholder I would suspect you are liable for your share of costs - the applicability of the Fire Safety Order to your flat isn't the issue, it's more a property law issue vis a vis the liabilities as a joint freeholder - the freeholder is responsible for the managmeent of the communal space and associated costs be it fire safety or any more general maintenance and as you are one of them (& possibly as a result a director of the TMC if there is one??) you could be liable for your share of the cost.

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