Fire Safety Act 2021
This Act came into force last year although some parts were not enacted at the time. That was until yesterday, when the prospective sections came into force.
This is relevant to private landlords who own a building divided into two separate dwellings or more. Or for those landlords that own a flat in a building. The landlord that owns the whole building is particularly impacted as they are now required to ensure that there is a fire risk assessment for the communal parts. If you do this already you might shrug your shoulders at this point but take note, the Act strengthens the requirements of the risk assessment.
From now on the assessment must cover the communal parts but includes the building as a whole which means that internal and external parts of the structure come under this. Importantly this means outside walls, windows, doors and balconies. The flammability of external walls will need to be assessed and this will depend on the construction materials.
Your building will then fall into one of five tiers. There is an online Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool which allocates buildings into five priority categories, based on their weighted numerical scores, to help with the prioritisation of fire risk assessments:
• Tier 1 – very high priority
• Tier 2 – high priority
• Tier 3 – medium priority
• Tier 4 – low priority
• Tier 5 – very low priority
Once determined, you will be given a series of ‘next steps’ for you to follow in order to be compliant. This might include employing a specialist assessor to complete the risk assessment.
Inside you need to be looking at the individual dwelling entrance doors to ensure they are fire rated doors and there are no gaps in the seals. So, you may not own the upstairs flat in your building but that door still needs to form part of the assessment.
The owner of the building becomes the responsible person. Owner is defined as the person receiving the open market rent (or their appointed agent) and the Act places this additional burden alongside a requirement to make sure the building is safe at all times. Fire escape routes are not blocked with bikes, prams, Amazon boxes, that sort of thing.
So, if you own a building like this or own a part of it you need to take steps to make sure that a risk assessment is done, and /or either you or another owner in the building are appointed the responsible person. Within that role you will be required to carry out annual reviews of your risk assessment.
We can help with both these areas and would be happy to discuss this service in more detail. You can contact us on 01749 672 678 | 01278 448 643 | 01823 587 201 or send us an email.
Please note the date this article was published as the law may have changed since it was posted. You should always seek independent legal advice if you are intending to rely on any of the contents.All resources & news