Comment by: Bob Smytherman
Focus area: Fire safety regulation
Regulator concerned: Fire safety (Fire Authority)
We are the national body that represents the interests of long leaseholders in England and Wales which we do via their Resident Associations, Resident Management Companies, Right to Manage Companies and similar groups many of who act collectively as the ‘responsible persons’ under the Fire Safety legislation while others employ the services of a managing agent operating in an unregulated environment.
We would ask that in your deliberations you give careful consideration to how these issues will impact upon blocks of flats and estates that are managed collectively and where they are governed by legislation in the leasehold sector as well as across Government.
Additional information about us can be found on our website.
Our comments on topics suggested are:-
• How and where you access information about fire safety issues, your
legal obligations, and how to comply with the law;
Our members seek advice us from us as an impartial organisation as often their own management company fails to communicate the reasons for certain actions or recommend costly, and disproportionate works to the common parts of their block.
Trades bodies such as ARMA provide good resources for their members sadly they only represent around 50% of managed blocks where as many are managed by volunteers who not our members and therefore unable to access our resources.
• What information you need, and how you would prefer to access
advice and guidance on fire safety matters;
We would like the information available to all RMC / RTM Directors directly from Companies House when they take on the responsibilities along with a a web-based discussion forum to share experiences as all blocks are different.
• Activity undertaken by fire and rescue authorities to support you with
There needs to be more recognition of volunteer RMC Directors by fire authorities not just managing agents and freeholders as well as an understanding of leases and issues of ownership / responsibility especially with regards fire doors to flats.
• The interaction your business has with fire and rescue authorities on
the business premises;
Our members are often not for profit companies / businesses but need to have the same recognition with the fire service as commercial companies
• Any ‘knock-on effects’ arising from compliance with fire safety
legislation – for example, where action to meet fire safety regulations
leads to additional requirements to meet other sets of regulations.
The Equalities Act 2010 requirements for ‘reasonable adjustments’ is causing much confusion for disabled flat -dwellers requiring improvements to the ‘common parts’ to facilitate access while impacting on the ‘means of escape’ of other residents in a block as well as complications with the lease on ownership / insurance issues.
Also gas safety legislation proposes different requirements on rented flats than those of owner occupier leaseholders.
We are interested in examples of good practice that is helpful to your
business in meeting its obligations, and suggestions for improving the way
A number of our members have shown how volunteers can provide a reasonable and proactive approach to fire safety in a block without the need for expensive consultants over prescribing fire safety measures in low risk blocks
We would also be interested to learn of issues encountered where third
parties encourage you to undertake unnecessary compliance activity;
for example, where regulation does not actually require a company to do
something, but they are led to believe it does.
A number of managing agents and professionals recommend the installation of fire fighting equipment in common areas of blocks of flats where no one is trained to use them or installation of emergency lighting to common areas where it may be unnecessary.
Another problem is front doors to flats owned by the leasehold flat owner and replaced with a ‘non fire doors’ and not the responsibility of those managing the building.
For FPRA Ltd
This response was sent on behalf of The Federation of Private Residents Associations Ltd.
A Non Profit Company limited by guarantee. Registered number 1992130
FPRA only advises member associations – we cannot and do not act for them.
Opinions and statements offered orally and in writing are given free of charge and in good faith and as such are offered without legal responsibility on the part either of the maker or of FPRA Ltd.
The Federation of Private Residents Associations Ltd,
P O Box 10271
Essex CM16 9DB
Telephone Number; 0871 200 3324 (normal national rates apply)