If you are a landlord there is a legal requirement upon you to carry out a landlord fire risk assessment and ensure the safety, as far as is possible, of your tenants. In fact, anyone in charge of a building which is not a single private dwelling is required to carry out a fire risk assessment or alternatively appoint a suitably competent person, such as those who work for UK-Fire Risk Assessments, to undertake it for them.
In fact, the majority of landlords, business owners, and many others in charge of a building are not competent to carry out a fire risk assessment, and many would put their hands up and admit it. That is nothing to be ashamed of because there are lots of things which could be a risk, of which the average person without appropriate training would simply not be aware.
Not only is it a requirement to undertake a fire risk assessment, but it is also necessary to review it from time to time, and certainly when any changes are made which could affect the risk. The law is not specific about how often an assessment should be reviewed, but most people would say that an annual review should be sufficient. However, if you make changes within your workplace, or as a landlord your tenants’ premises, then a further risk assessment should be undertaken.
For example, let’s say that you own a factory and you install a couple of new machines and move some others around on the factory floor in order to accommodate them. This could very easily result in what was previously an escape route being blocked. The new machines may not be new but second-hand, and may not have the latest fire safety measures built-in. All these things need to be taken into consideration.
Not only is it necessary to undertake a fire risk assessment, but it is also necessary to take any appropriate action that the assessment indicates is necessary. Just in March last year, a housing association, Kinsman Housing Limited, was found to have breached the regulations. “The regulator received information from a third party which indicated that Kinsman had not adequately responded to potential issues with the structural safety of a number of its homes, along with concerns about the safety of gas, fire and electrical installations” (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/785012/20190313_Regulatory_Notice_Kinsman_Housing_Limited.pdf).
Such breaches of regulations can result in fines and prison sentences. In June 2018 the owner of a wedding venue was found to have failed to take precautions to protect the public and employees. Among other things, he failed to review the fire risk assessment when he converted the second floor of the building’s main hall into sleeping accommodation. He was ordered to pay fines and costs of nearly £24,000 and received a 20-month prison sentence. Government statistics show that between October 2013 and October 2018 there were 560 prosecutions under the Fire Safety Order (Regulatory Reform) Act 2005, so it is in the interests of everyone to ensure that they are compliant with the law. It is there for a very good reason.
This is the reason why many of our clients at UK-Fire Risk Assessments prefer to use our trained and highly skilled assessors to undertake the job for them. Our staff members know what to look for. Every building is different, has different uses, and different levels of employees, or in the case of landlords, tenants.
Of course, if you are a landlord you cannot be responsible for how your tenants behave in their own flat or home. However, you are responsible for all of the communal areas – corridors, stairways, lifts, and so on –and also kitchens and bathrooms where they are shared. In addition, you are responsible for the fire safety of the front doors of each flat in a communal building. Certainly, you should issue regulations regarding keeping fire doors closed and not cluttering up corridors with anything so that escape routes are always open. You also need to have fire safety equipment such as fire alarms and fire extinguishers where appropriate. Call our team to arrange for your own fire safety assessment so that you can be confident you are compliant with the law.