22nd Apr 2015

Fire Safety Risk Assessments

Since October 2006 the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 came into effect and applies to all non-domestic premises in England and Wales including the common parts of blocks of flats or houses in multiple occupation. In such circumstances, a fire safety risk assessment must be carried out.Failure to have such an assessment carried out is a criminal offence and can be enforced by the fire authority.The owner of the building will be criminally liable.In the cases of blocks of flats or properties converted into flats, where the freehold is owned by a management company, the directors of that management company will be criminally liable.As well as there being the risk of prosecution, non compliance with the regulations may also vitiate buildings insurance the next time the policy is up for renewal. Insurers will certainly require such an assessment before they commit themselves to reinstate after a fire.

If you are purchasing a property that is affected by the legislation, you should ask for sight of the fire safety assessment.If it is evident that no assessment has been carried out, then the insurance position should be considered and the possibility of criminal prosecution must also be borne in mind if, in addition to purchasing a property, you are also required to serve as a director of the freehold owning management company.

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