Risk Assessments – I am a landlord with several Houses in Multiple Occupation. I have been told that I should be doing fire safety risk assessments for these properties but I’m not sure what this means. What do I need to do?
Under the new rules the “responsible person” usually the owner (with a commercial unit this may be the occupier, though responsibility may be shared with the owner or property manager where there are common areas) is obliged to carry out an annual fire risk assessment.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 came into force in October 2006. This is a major reform of fire safety regulations and now affects landlords with non-domestic (commercial) properties and also HMOs.
There are also some fire safety obligations under the Housing Act 2004 which affect landlords of single lettings.
This involves, in the case of HMOs, identifying all fire related hazards within the property and the common areas. It should identify the levels of risk, the control measures put in place and would take into account such things as fire alarms and fire extinguisher checks and servicing, electrical and gas system checks, fire doors and escape routes, door closers and door smoke and fire seals etc.
It is important with all rental property to ensure that gas servicing and checks are carried out annually and a gas certificate issued. Landlords are also under a common law duty of care to provide safe accommodation, so although there is no statutory duty to do electrical checks, these should nevertheless be carried out – appliance checks on every tenancy change and system checks every 5 to 10 years.
In the case of commercial premises and HMOs, fire alarms should be tested weekly and emergency lighting monthly. The alarm system and fire extinguishers should be serviced annually.
In theory the landlord or property manager should be capable of preparing an acceptable risk assessment – see “Making Your Premises Safe from Fire” http://tinyurl.com/aodj9n
However, it is always preferable to consult a fire safety specialist, at least for an initial assessment – they have the experience to identify risks and interpret the legislation – you will find these listed on the LandlordZONE Directory under Risk Assessments or Fire Safety.
Since 2006 there have been a few prosecutions over this new legislation some very heavy fines and one landlord has received a jail sentence, so you do need to take this seriously.
By Tom Entwistle,
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