From the 23 January 2023, the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 has come into effect for multi-occupied residential buildings. This is what Build to Rent operators need to know.
Why have the Fire Safety Regulations changed?
The new legislation and amendments to the existing Regulatory Reform follow the highly publicised Grenfell Tower tragedy and subsequent Hackitt Review. The independent review was designed to set the wheels in motion for a better system for the future for making residents feel safe in the buildings they live in – specifically multi-occupancy high-rise residential buildings. Feeling safe in your building is one of the many additional benefits of the Build to Rent sector beyond the added aesthetics, convenience and amenity spaces we’re fortunate to offer to residents.
Who do the Fire Safety Regulations apply to?
The Fire Safety Regulations apply to the ‘responsible person’ in charge of the safety of residents. That responsible person will likely be one or multiple designated property manager’s designated by the owner or operator who has control over the premises.
If you are that person, you will have legal duties to fulfil under these new regulations.
What are your legal duties?
For multi-occupied buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises, the specific legal duties depend on the height of the building, however all responsible persons are required to:
- supply fire safety instructions to residents with comprehensive details on fire doors, how to report a fire, evacuation guidance and what to do after a fire has occurred.
For buildings that exceed 11m in height, the responsible person must also carry out annual inspections of entrance doors to apartments, apartment entrance doors should always be installed as Fire Doors for the purpose of protecting residents and considering compartmentation should a fire ever break out in addition to those in communal spaces or anywhere multiple residents pass through even more frequent.
When carrying out checks to doors, the responsible person must:
- Check that self-close doors close perfectly around the entire frame (check both sides of the door)
- Ensure that since installation the gap surrounding the door to frame does not exceed 4mm.
- Look for any damage or wear and tear and document this including glazing (if applicable)
- Check letterboxes close firmly (if applicable)
- Check seals and hinges
For residential properties of 18m or over (or with seven storeys or more), the responsible person will need to do all the above plus:
- Provide current electronic floorplans and details regarding the building’s design, materials and risks to the local fire and rescue service (FRS)
- Install a secure information box in the building with a hard copy of the floor plans, building plan and contact details of the responsible person kept inside (this should be checked annually and updated if required)
- Carry out monthly inspections on essential firefighting equipment and lifts
- Ensure that a high visibility way-finding signage that can be seen in low light or smoky conditions
- Report any out-of-order firefighting equipment or lifts to the FRS if it hasn’t been working for longer than 24 hours
What happens if you don’t comply?
Other than putting the lives of your residents at risk, financial fines can reach the £thousands. It simply isn’t worth the risk to anyone.
It doesn’t take much time or effort to integrate these extra checks into your regular property inspections. The latest version of the Inventory Hive property inspection app includes the new fire regulation requirements within all report types and can be used to record the relevant information you need to demonstrate compliance for audit trail purposes.
You can download a sample report that has been created on Inventory Hive here.
If you would like to learn about how Inventory Hive can help with your Build to Rent property inspections, including fire inspections, submit an enquiry here to arrange a call.
Learn more at Inventory Hive or visit the Government website for further details on Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022.
*This article is for guidance only and if you have any specific questions then please seek legal advice