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Residential Lettings

May 2021

If you are a landlord of multi-let premises, you and your letting or managing agents have a legal duty to keep the people who rent your property safe from fire through the provisions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (‘FSO’). Under the requirements of the FSO, this has meant carrying out a fire risk assessment on the communal or shared areas but under the Fire Safety Act 2021 (‘the Act’) this duty has been extended to include the external fabric of the building where the building contains two or more sets of domestic premises.

The Fire Safety Act (‘the Act’) was given Royal Assent on the 29 April 2021. It applies in both England and Wales.

The Act clarifies that for any building containing two or more sets of domestic premises, the FSO (as amended) applies to:

  1. the building’s structure;
  2. external walls (including doors or windows in those walls and anything attached to the exterior of those walls (including cladding and balconies); and
  3. any common parts/shared areas (including flat entrance doors that open into common parts).

A ‘responsible person’ (a landlord, letting agent or managing agent) should review their fire risk assessments to ensure that they cover the structure, external façade and individual entrance doors and implement any changes where necessary as soon as possible.

A responsible person can carry out the risk assessment themselves, however, it is still recommended that an expert is instructed to carry out a fire risk assessment, especially in more complex premises. If you do want to perform the fire risk assessment yourself, you should only do so if you have had training or experience in fire risk assessment.

For further information you can review the government’s guidance on performing a risk assessment which can be found here .

Although parts of the Act do not come into force immediately (but over the coming months), it is best practice for these changes to be adopted as soon as possible.

There are two new templates: 1) AResidential Fire Risk Assessment Form; and 2) An HMO Fire Risk Assessment Form to assist responsible persons in carrying out the assessment. The Residential and HMO Health and Safety Policies, Compliance Checklist and Multi-Let Property Management Service Agreements have been updated to incorporate these changes.

Further changes to the FSO are likely, following a government consultation last year, with greater duties on the responsible persons being anticipated. As yet there is no timescale for these changes, but we will continue to monitor progress and send out further updates where necessary. 

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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