Landlords and property management
Building Safety Act 2022: Section 156
Provision of information to residents
In residential buildings with two or more domestic premises (e.g. blocks of flats) the responsible owner must provide residents with information on the risks from fire within their building and the fire safety measures provided to keep them safe. This requirement expands upon legislation introduced earlier this year that required responsible persons to provide residents with information on emergency procedures and the importance of fire doors.
For more information please visit our section 156 page.
As Landlords, you have a legal responsibility to keep tenants safe. The main pieces of legislation that cover fire safety is the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. These two pieces of legislation are enforced by the Local Authority and the Fire and Rescue Service respectively.
There are also a number of documents that can be used to clarify the legal responsibilities and provide guidance on how to keep tenants safe:
- LACoRS (.pdf, 82 pages)
- Sleeping accommodations DCLG guide (.pdf, 148 pages)
- Decent and Safe Homes (DASH)
- Licensing conditions (if applicable)
- The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015: Q&A booklet for the private rented sector – landlords and tenants
- Premises information boxes (.pdf, 21 pages)
Although the detail changes, there are some key fire safety areas to consider that apply to all social landlords, local authorities, and private rented sectors. It is vitally important that a fire risk assessment has been completed and is reviewed on a regular basis. This assesses the risk of fire to your tenants and others who are associated with your premises and enables you to identify any areas with deficiencies and a timescale with which to rectify them. We have more information on how to conduct a Fire Risk Assessment by following the link, and FREE Fire Risk Assessment Workshops, should you have any more questions.
Fire detection and alarm systems
A fire detection and alarm system should be in place to help occupants become aware of a fire developing. The minimum necessary is a smoke detector and alarm on each storey, which should be tested at the start of any new tenancy. More information for what may be an appropriate level of additional cover is available in the guidance linked above, or in the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations 2015.
Escape routes should be kept clear at all times, and a series of signs directing people along the escape route should always be clearly visible. They may need additional emergency lighting where it is a complex route or there is no borrowed lighting available, and this can be provided on a risk assessed basis. Tenants need to be aware of what to do in the event of an emergency, so it may be necessary to provide signs and notices with relevant information on.
Where the premises is multi-occupied with areas of different use, such as housing above commercial premises like a shop or a takeaway, there should be adequate fire separation between the two areas. There should also be fire resistance enclosing any pipes or electrical equipment that travels between the two areas such as ducting. These measures will all help to reduce the spread of fire. If there is no separate escape route, you may also need an interlinked fire detection and alarm system to make occupants aware of a fire developing that may affect their escape.
Has any gas equipment been installed by a Gas Safe engineer? Only qualified engineers should be used to install new gas equipment and also carry out any maintenance. As part of this, an annual gas safety check should be carried out to make sure there are no problems.
There should also be multiple fire precautions in place throughout your building. These can include:
- Fire extinguishers (Further guidance can be found in the Sleeping Accommodation DCLG guide)
- Fire resistant barriers between common areas and living accommodation
- Flat front doors and doors that lead into shared corridors must be fire resistant and fitted with self-closing devices
- Premises specific emergency action plan that all tenants should be aware of
We also have lots of great advice on our Joint Audit and Inspection Team (JAIT) page, which provides Information on multi-occupied residential buildings and the JAIT who work to ensure these buildings have the right safety precautions in place. The team is made up of officers from Nottingham City Council, including Environmental Health and Enforcement Officers, as well as Fire Safety Inspectors from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service. They will be holding a number of engagement events for building owners, responsible persons, and those involved in the development of premises across the city. If you would like to be added to a mailing list or would like to contact the team in general, then please email them at JIT@nottinghamcity.gov.uk.