If you live in a flat you have a responsibility not only to yourself but to your neighbours to take every precaution that you can to prevent the start of a fire. Your landlord and/or managing agent is responsible for taking safety precautions in the communal areas, but cannot be responsible for what individual tenants do or do not do in their own flat.

Not only is the landlord responsible for undertaking a fire risk assessment for flats as it applies to the communal areas, but he or she is also responsible for the front doors of each flat. Provided you have the right sort of front door, if a fire breaks out in the communal areas, it should provide you 30 minutes of protection, which is sufficient for the fire brigade to arrive. For this reason, you should never make any alterations to the front door. Even adding a cat flap or altering the letterbox, if there is one, can affect the fire safety of the whole building.

This is because most fires in flats break out in an individual flat and the door will keep smoke and flames from spreading to the communal areas which could block an escape route. In order to meet current fire safety advice for flats, the front door should also have a self-closing device fitted and you should never remove this.

Although the landlord is responsible for the communal areas there are things that you should not do. For instance, don’t keep a bike, push chair or mobility scooter in the communal areas as this could block the escape route. Don’t store anything else there either. Neither should you prop open any fire doors. Don’t clutter the stairs, landings, and corridors with personal items or anything that could catch fire easily. Neither should you store anything that is flammable in a cupboard that has electrical circuits in it. You should put all rubbish in the bins that are provided and not leave it lying around in the refuse area, as this could also catch fire. In addition, if you see anything in a corridor or communal area that shouldn’t be there, either remove it yourself or tell the landlord or managing agent.

Your landlord or managing agent should keep the fire risk assessment for your block under review. While there are no legal requirements for timing of reviews, the general advice is that a modern low rise block which is low risk should have a review/re-assessment every two years.