Frequently asked questions
Whose responsibility is it to arrange a fire risk assessment of communal areas?
The responsibility to arrange the fire risk assessment in your building lies with the landlord. This could be the owner (freeholder), a Residents’ Management Company, Right to Manage Company, or a managing agent.
A review should also be carried out after the completion of any work to the building to address fire safety concerns.
Is there a requirement for a landlord fire risk assessment?
Yes, legislation requires that a fire risk assessment is carried out in all areas of the landlord’s properties. This process will identify any fire hazards and who is at risk and decide if anything needs to be done to remove or reduce that risk.
The landlords fire risk assessment should reflect the different building types (Fire Risk Assessments – Types 1 to 4 as detailed above) to identify any fire safety risks and to protect against the risk of fire.
What sort of fire risk assessments for purpose-built flats are there?
There are generally four different fire risk assessment types that can be carried out for a purpose-built block of flats.
In all cases, a block’s landlord is the Responsible Person who must ensure the safety of all the block’s occupants and decide and enact what is necessary to achieve this.
Type 1: Communal parts only, non-destructive
Type 2: Communal parts only, destructive
Type 3: Communal parts and flats, non-destructive
Type 4: Communal parts and flats, destructive
How long does a fire risk assessment last?
By law, your landlord or agent should keep the fire risk assessment for your block under review. This is not necessarily the same as repeating the assessment; a shorter review can be made with a repeat at longer intervals.
There are no clear legal requirements set for the timing of reviews and repeat assessments; This depends entirely on the nature, extent, and individual circumstances of the building involved.
How often should a fire risk assessment be reviewed?
General guidance is as follows; for low risk modern low-rise blocks, a review every two years with a new assessment every four years and for higher-risk blocks, you might expect an annual review with a new assessment every three years
When is a Fire Risk Assessment required for flats?
A fire risk assessment is a legal requirement in the common areas of all blocks of flats e.g. stairways, corridors, landings, etc (including houses converted into two or more flats). A basic fire risk assessment will look at the communal areas and inspect the front doors of individual flats.
Any doubt in the structural fire protection of a building may require a more invasive assessment. This may include opening up the structure of the building to check its fire resistance.
Which acts and fire safety regulations apply to your property?
For existing residential premises, the Housing Act 2004 applies: this Act includes Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), licensing for HMOs, and management regulations for HMOs.
With regard to fire safety, the main legislation is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO). This Order requires landlords to carry out fire risk assessments in the common areas of HMOs, flats, maisonettes, and sheltered accommodation.
Note: In premises occupied by single households, only the HHSRS applies.
What fire safety guidance is available for residential flats?
The responsibilities have been combined and clarified in the LACoRS Guide ‘Guidance on fire safety provisions for certain types of existing housing’ which applies to owner-occupied, social housing or private rented sector properties such as single-household properties, shared houses, bedsit HMOs, purpose-built flats not in compliance with Building Regulations 1991, sheltered accommodation without care, and some small hostels.
The LACoRS guide is not relevant to properties constructed in accordance to Building Regulations 1991 (unless the premises or its purpose are changed), guest houses, bed and breakfast, hotels, motels, large hostels, family accommodation centres, student halls of residence, holiday chalets and others, for which the Fire Risk Assessment guide applies.
Which legislation supports Fire Risk Assessments in the UK?
The relevant Acts/statutory instruments are the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in England and Wales, the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 in Scotland, and the Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 in Northern Ireland.
Is a Fire Risk Assessment a legal requirement for flats?
A fire risk assessment is a legal requirement. If you are responsible for a building, for example, an employer, owner, or occupier of premises that aren’t a ‘single private dwelling’ (a private home), you need to make sure a suitably competent person completes a fire risk assessment.
In law, the responsibility for fire safety in the shared parts of a building is that of the ‘responsible person’. For blocks of flats or large houses in multiple occupation, this is usually the freeholder or management company.
What is a Type 1 Fire Risk Assessment?
Type 1 – Common parts only (non-destructive)
This is the most basic Fire Risk Assessment required for satisfying The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Unless there is reason to suspect deficiencies in fire protection, such as inadequate compartmentation then a Type 1 will usually be sufficient for most blocks of purpose-built flats.
What is a Type 2 Fire Risk Assessment?
Type 2 – Common parts only (destructive)
This Fire Risk Assessment covers the same areas as the Type 1, except that there is a degree of destructive inspection involved, carried out on a sampling basis. This will require a competent contractor to be present, both to gain access to the elements and to make good any damage caused after the investigation.
A Type 2 Fire Risk Assessment is usually a one-off exercise, only carried out if there is a good reason to suspect deficiencies that could lead to the spread of fire.
What is a Type 3 Fire Risk Assessment?
Type 3 – Common parts and flats (non-destructive)
A Type 3 Fire Risk Assessment includes the work involved in Type 1 but goes beyond the scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005 by considering the arrangements for means of escape and fire detection within (at least) a sample of the flats. The inspection of any flat is non-destructive, but the fire resistance of doors to rooms will be part of the assessment.
A Type 3 Fire Risk Assessment may be required if there is reason to suspect serious risk to residents in the event of a fire in their flats, this could be due to the age of a building or due to unauthorised alterations.
What is a Type 4 Fire Risk Assessment?
Type 4 – Common parts and flats (destructive)
A Type 4 Fire Risk Assessment (the most comprehensive) covers the same areas as the Type 3, except that there will be some destructive inspection required to the common areas and in a sample of the flats. This will require a competent contractor to be present, both to gain access to the elements and to make good any damage caused after the investigation.
This type of inspection would normally only be carried out on unoccupied flats.
A Type 4 Fire Risk Assessment will only be required in a very limited set of circumstances, such as when a new landlord takes over a block of flats where the Fire Safety history is unknown, or where there is reason to suspect serious risk to residents in their flat or a neighbours’ flats.