The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 (“the Regulations”) come into effect on 23 January 2023. The Regulations are made under the powers of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and greatly expands upon the contents.
The new Regulations are primarily in relation to high-rise residential buildings, those either 18 metres above ground level or with at least 7 storeys, although regulations 9 and 10 apply to all buildings which contain two or more sets of domestic premises and common parts through which residents would need to evacuate in the case of an emergency.
The Regulations give the ‘responsible person’, usually the freeholder or block manager (defined by Regulation 3 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005), duties to provide the occupants with information about fires and obligations to perform certain tasks:
- Secure information box accessible to the fire and rescue authority;
- Design and materials of external walls;
- Floor plans and building plan;
- Lifts and essential fire-fighting equipment;
- Wayfinding signage;
- Information to residents;
- Fire doors;
- Provision of documents to the local fire and rescue authority.
Regulations 9 & 10
Regulation 9 requires the responsible person to provide instructions to residents. These instructions must be displayed in a conspicuous part of the building and must include:
- instructions relating to the evacuation strategy for the building;
- instructions as regards how to report a fire to the fire and rescue authority; and
- any other instruction that tells residents what they must do when a fire has occurred.
Regulation 10 concerns fire doors and again requires the responsible person to provide residents with information:
- fire doors should be kept shut when not in use;
- residents or their guests should not tamper with the self-closing devices; and
- residents should report any faults or damages with doors immediately to the responsible person;
The above instructions and information in relation to fire doors must be given to new residents of the building as soon as practicable after they take up residence, to all residents within 12 months of the Regulations coming into force and then to all residents on a 12 monthly basis.
Application of the Regulations
It would appear by default that the Regulations apply to individual room lets in addition to individual or converted properties. We would certainly recommend that landlords comply with the obligations set out in the Regulations as a matter of best practice, regardless.
Care should be taken where agents are instructed to manage all properties within a converted building. They could be seen as or assumed to be the responsible person in the circumstances and found to be managing the whole property rather than the individual tenancies. Agents should be clear with their landlords as to who will be the responsible person for each applicable tenancy. Should a landlord refuse to comply with their requirements, steps should be taken to disinstruct as soon as reasonably practicable.
For those that are unaware of the upcoming changes or find themselves in a position where they will be non-compliant with the Regulations we strongly recommend taking independent specialist fire safety advice.
Published 18 January 2023