Landlords in the housing sector have certain legal obligations with regard to fire safety and the safety of people who live in their premises.
Fire safety must be considered against the potential risks posed by different types of buildings and their uses. For example, a building comprising of purpose-built flats will present a different risk to residents and other users than one which has a mixture of commercial and residential lettings.
Legislation requires landlords to carry out fire risk assessments of their properties. This process will identify any fire hazards that exist, who is at risk, and what needs to be done to remove or reduce that risk.
These responsibilities extend to premises that have no landlord – e.g. flats with common areas where flat owners are jointly regarded as ‘responsible persons’ and need to ensure legislative requirements are met and maintained as a co-operative.
The Fire Safety Order creates a legal entity known as the ‘responsible person’. If you are the owner, manager, agent or you own a flat within a block, you will need to check if you are the responsible person.
If a person has a contractual or tenancy obligation for the maintenance, repair or safety of a premises, they can be regarded as a person with control of the premises and therefore acquire responsibility relating to the extent of that control. It should, however, be understood that the responsible person has an absolute duty to comply with the Fire Safety Order.
The responsible person must not wait to be directed to act by the enforcing authority. As with health & safety legislation, ignorance of the law is no excuse for non-compliance.