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Flats on ground and first floor

Guest Martin RR

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Guest Martin RR

Hi, I live in a Victorian terraced house converted into 4 flats over ground and first floor, 2 flats on each floor all privately owned. There is a communal hallway, stairs and landing. Do we need a professional fire alarm system and weekly alarm testing, which seem expensive, one flat owner thinks we do, while 3 think differently, no argument we simply don't know. One flat owner has been told that each flat is responsible for their own flat and the installation of smoke alarms and that the communal area needs emergency lighting. Also that as the house is only ground and first floor, there is little more regulation than an ordinary house, if anybody can help please do, thanks

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It's quite simple - as your building contains two or more dwellings (i.e. flats) then it is covered by the Fire Safety Order 2005 (as amended by the Fire Safety Act 2021) and covers the entire exterior of the building, the internal common areas and internal boundaries with the common areas (to include the front doors of flats)

The Responsible Person under this legislation is the Freeholder (& any Managing Agent exercising control of the premises on their behalf) who has to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment of parts of the premises as covered by the legislation which will in turn determine the necessary fire precautions.

This should be carried out by a competent person, ideally an accredited fire risk assessor.

Depending on the age when the conversion occurred, the structural compartmentation, nature of fire doors (including flat front doors), provision or otherwise of smoke control measures, etc the assessment will decide that either:
- No common fire alarm is required and stay put is OK 
- The above is possible subject to some improvement works that are reasonably achievable
- A common fire alarm system including detection and alarm devices in flat hallways (to raise the alarm before the fire or smoke breaks out of the flat of origin trapping others) is required along with a full simultaneous evacuation policy for the whole building.

Also the building could be a s257 HMO under the Housing Act as it is a conversion from a house - the additional criteria are if the conversion doesn't comply with Building Regulations (most older ones didn't) and if less than two thirds (50% in some council areas) of the flats are owner occupied. This would, depending on the local Councils additional licensing scheme criteria, mean it requires a license in addition to all the other fire precautions.

Registered Fire Risk Assessor

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