The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (England and Wales) became law on 1 October 2006 The Order applies to all non-domestic premises, including common parts of blocks of flats or houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)
Every block of flats also needs a fire safety risk assessment. This applies to the communal parts, not to the individual flats, and it’s an obligation on the landlord. Fire Officers can enter any block of flats to inspect the building. They may ask to see the risk assessment and issue enforcement notices to improve fire safety if it’s needed. Failures may also lead to prosecution in the courts.
Health and Safety
All blocks of flats must have a health & safety risk assessment carried out of the communal areas. This is a legal requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Although you may not consider communal areas to be a “place of work” it would be almost impossible to maintain the communal areas without the input of a contractor of some sort; This would typically be cleaners, gardeners or general maintenance contractors.
Communal areas do not just mean the internal parts of the building – they also include the roof, structure and other external areas. When carrying out a risk assessment, remember to include all areas including gardens, grounds, plant rooms, meter cupboards and lift motor rooms. If there aren’t any employees of the landlord working at the block, then there’s no requirement to record the risk assessment – but it is recommended to do so. If there’s an accident and you have no proof of a risk assessment being carried out, you are much more likely to be prosecuted or sued for negligence. The risk assessment should be reviewed at least annually.
The Corporate Manslaughter Act of 2007 is very clear that directors of Residents’ Management Companies can be prosecuted under criminal law for serious breaches of Health & Safety law. Directors of Residents’ Management Companies will always retain responsibility for the health & safety of their block, whether they delegate to agents or not