Tuesday, May 11th, 2021
Following the tragic Grenfell disaster in 2017 there has much been discussion regarding fire safety in blocks of flats. Historically (and pursuant to the Fire Safety Order 2005) the person with control of the premises (often the landlord) had to ensure that a sufficient fire risk assessment of common parts was in place. Following the recent passing of the Fire Safety Act 2021, where there are two or more “sets of domestic premises” (e.g. flats) this risk assessment must now also include:
The building’s structure
- Doors and window in external walls
- Balconies attached to external walls
- All doors between flats and common parts
This law not only applies to third party landlords who own large blocks of flats, but also where the leaseholders may have a “share of freehold.” If there are two flats or more in the building, whoever is in control of the premises (be that a third party landlord or a combination of leaseholders) must ensure that a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment is in place that includes an assessment of exterior walls, even if there are no common parts. It is an offence not to comply with the Act and furthermore, failure to have an adequate risk assessment in place may lead to a breach of the building insurance. There is no precedent form that the risk assessment must take, however it must be suitable and sufficient for the building and be regularly reviewed. If any changes are made to the building (such as extensions) the assessment will almost certainly have to be updated.
Please note that if the person(s) in control of the premises do not have the expertise to adequately assess the risk they should instruct a professional to undertake the assessment.
If you are purchasing leasehold property, please speak to our property team should you have any further questions regarding fire risk assessments.
Steven Bannell is an Associate Solicitor in Hanne & Co’s Property Department