Fire risk assessments for communal areas of flats are a legal requirement for all blocks of flats to have a fire risk assessment of the communal areas. This includes houses converted into two or more flats. The fire risk assessment must include the front doors of individual flats.
The responsibility for the assessment lies with the landlord. This could be a Residents’ Management Company or Right to Manage Company.
The landlord must also keep the fire risk assessment for your block under review. This is not the same as repeating the fire risk assessment. Shorter reviews of the fire risk assessment can be conducted between repeat assessments.
There are no legal requirements set for the timing of reviews and repeat assessments; but guidance states that:
- For low risk modern low rise blocks, a review every two years with a new assessment every four years
- For higher risk blocks, an annual review with a new assessment every three years
- A review should also be carried out after the completion of any work to the building to address fire safety concerns.
Further information on fire risk assessments for communal areas is available from the following sources
- A general guide to safety in blocks of flats – The Association of Residential Managing Agents
- Fire safety – the Leasehold Advisory Service
- Fire safety risk assessments for sleeping accommodation (includes communal areas of flats) – HM Government – available from the Department for Communities and Local Government website
Most fires in blocks of flats start within the individual flats themselves. Causes include
- Electrical faults from overloaded sockets
- Cigarettes – for example, when they are not put out properly, or when someone smoking out of a window throws the butt away and it falls through a neighbour’s open window below
- Chip and frying pans are particularly dangerous when someone forgets to turn off the hob.
- Candles left unattended.