New Fire Safety Regulations
The Government has introduced Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 which detail new requirements for some landlords.
Who do the regulations apply to?
Many of the new regulations are only placed on the responsible person for high-rise buildings (at least 18 metres in height). However, some of the new requirements will apply to buildings which are laid out as follows:
- Split into at least two premises
- There are communal parts through which residents must pass to exit the building.
If you are the responsible person for a house in multiple occupation (HMO) and you let the property by the room then you must comply with the relevant requirements.
Also, if you own a property with a shop on one floor and a residential premises on the second floor this regulation will apply to the common parts.
When a whole property is let on a joint tenancy the requirements will not apply to you.
Who is the responsible person?
A responsible person for a property is the individual who is responsible for the safety of the building. That person will be the person who has control over the communal parts of a building.
For HMO’s let by the room, the landlord will be the responsible person as they have control over the common parts.
In a block of flats the responsible person is usually the freeholder as they exercise control of the communal parts.
When do these regulations apply from?
The law came into force on January 23rd 2023.
Which parts of the building do these regulations apply to?
These new regulations address safety for the common parts of properties. They will not generally apply to anything inside self-contained flats within the building.
What are the general requirements for all room only HMO?
There are two key requirements that all responsible people will have to follow:
- Providing fire safety instructions to occupants
- Providing information on fire doors in the property
Fire safety instructions
The fire safety instructions must include:
- the evacuation strategy for the building (e.g. stay put or simultaneous evacuation)
- instructions on how to report a fire (e.g. use of 999 or 112, the correct address to give to the fire and rescue service, etc.)
- any other instruction that tells residents what they must do when a fire has occurred
Fire door instructions
The information on the fire doors must state that:
- fire doors should be shut when not in use
- residents or their guests should not tamper with self-closing devices on fire doors
- residents should report any fault with, or damage to, fire doors immediately to the Responsible Person
Where to display this information
The information should be provided in a clear, easy to understand format to all occupants as soon as reasonably practical after they take occupation or whenever the above information changes.
A copy of this information must also be displayed in a conspicuous part of the building. A good place to put this would be on the notice board alongside your contact details for a HMO.
Additional responsibilities for properties 11 metres or more in height
If the property is 11 metres in height or more then additional responsibilities are triggered.
The responsible person must perform checks of the fire doors in the communal parts of the building at least every three months.
In addition, flat entrance doors should be checked at least every 12 months.
The checks ensure that the doors fully close into the frame, overcoming the resistance of any latch or friction with the floor.
The Government guidance recommends that the checks be made by:
- opening the door fully, then letting it go; then
- opening the door to around 15 degrees and letting it go
Are basements included in the height of the building?
To calculate the height of the building basements are not included. Further information on calculating the height of a building in available in the Government guidance (see link below):
High-rise residential buildings (18 metres tall or more)
A significant amount of further information and checks are required for high-rise residential buildings. This will usually be the responsibility of the freeholder however and should not apply to most landlords.
Freeholders of high-rise residential buildings you should seek specialist advice to ensure they comply with the requirements.