Best practice advice for fire safety in flats

ARMA (the Association of Residential Managing Agents) has issued a ‘Fire Safety Management in Flats’ Guidance Note to share best practice with professional Fire Safety personnel involved in the residential leasehold sector, including managing agents, developers and landlords.

The Guidance Note has been produced in line with statutory guidance and industry best practice and independently reviewed by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, ARMA’s Primary Authority Partner and can be accessed by clicking here.

Dr Nigel Glen, CEO of ARMA, said: “ARMA members have access to over 100 Guidance Notes on a wide range of topics affecting leasehold properties. This is the only one that has been made available to non-ARMA members, as we wish to promote Fire Safety industry-wide.
Information courtesy of News on the Block.

Top 10 tips for fire safety in flats:

  1. Ask your managing agent to provide you with a copy of the building’s latest fire risk assessment. It is, effectively, a guide book for fire safety plans in your building.
  2. If your managing agent won’t provide you with a copy of the fire risk assessment then complain to the individual agent directly. If that does not work, then make a formal complaint through the internal complaints procedure at the agent’s company.
    If you are still unhappy, you can complain to a redress scheme. All managing agents in England must be a member of one these redress schemes:
    o The Property Ombudsman
    o The Property Redress Scheme
  3. If there is no fire risk assessment and the responsible person will not conduct an assessment, then contact your local fire and rescue authority (FRA). Your FRA is responsible for enforcing fire safety regulations. They can make the person responsible for fire safety in your building carry out a fire risk assessment.
    Your local fire service can tell you who the FRA is (it might be your local council). You can also search on the National Fire Chiefs Council website.
  4. It is recommended that for low-rise blocks of up to three storeys above ground, built in the last 20 years, fire risk assessments should be:
    o reviewed every 2 years
    o redone every 4 years
    For blocks with higher risks (for example, because of the age of the building), or those more than 3 storeys high, it is recommended that assessments should be:
    o reviewed every year
    o redone every 3 years
    In extreme cases (for the highest-risk buildings), a new fire risk assessment is recommended annually.
    When you receive your building’s fire risk assessment check when it was last redone and/or reviewed.
  5. If you have received the assessment, check that the managing agent has or will act on its recommendations.
  6. Fit smoke alarm(s) in your flat and test them monthly.
  7. Be vigilant that the communal areas are free of obstructions to your escape from fire; and that fire doors in communal areas are not propped open.
  8. If a specific ‘evacuation plan’ is agreed with the Local Fire Authority then you should read the plan carefully, so you know what to do if you ever need to evacuate.
  9. Check that the managing agents have regular testing and servicing arrangements in place for any fire-fighting and detection equipment.
  10. If alterations to doors or the internal layout of the flat are planned, consider implications on fire safety and check any issues with your managing agent.

If you would like to know more about the safety standards undertaken by Inspired Property Management in managing your development please get in touch with a member of our team.

Apartment Living Horror stories – Beware…

Living in an apartment can be total bliss, once you’ve found your dream place and made it your home, whether you are a resident or manage a block, you need to make sure you are fully aware of some of the horrors which can surface if you’ve not done your research!

From nightmare neighbours to spine-chilling service charges, you should be aware of the frightening facts that you might not expect or have overlooked before signing your lease.

Here are some of the terrifying facts you should know about living in or managing an apartment block. 

1. Discovering that the building is under-insured when you suffer a major loss, such as a fire can be horrific for the people involved knowing they can not recoup the full value of their losses.

2. Buying a short lease on a flat in a prime central London location, only to discover how much you’re going to have to stump up for a lease extension!

3. Being the property manager of a prestigious development block and spending three hours at a residents’ association meeting where they’re still discussing item one of the agenda – whether the trees should be trimmed or not!

4. Realising that the apartment owners in your building are all Airbnb addicts, who are infact sub-letting their own apartments and using your concierge as a hotel porter and having loud parties every weekend.

5. Returning to your penthouse apartment on the 15th floor, weighed down by luggage to find the lift is broken.

6. You overlook charging the residents for major works which took place more than 18 months ago and find out that you can only recover £250 per resident.

7. Realising that your property manager has been using your block’s sinking funds and you now have nothing to carry out urgent repair works.

8. Discovering that your tenant has been keeping a family of black sable ferrets in their flat even though pets are prohibited in their lease and they’ve been breeding uncontrollably!

9. Having taken over the management of the smallest building in your portfolio, which has the most difficult leaseholder, you spend most of your time having to deal with them on the phone or in person, over stones from the driveway or leaves on the paths.

10.  Being the third manager to be appointed by the courts of a building in disrepair with no sinking fund and the residents cannot afford any uplift in service charges – and they all hate each other and can’t agree on any works! Total nightmare…

We all have horror stories but it’s how we deal and manage with situations. You should always be prepared when it comes to having all the facts as a leaseholder and knowing what your responsibilities are if you decide to be part of a Residents Management Committee.

A good block property managers will assist you in ensuring your property is managed efficiently and all issues are dealt with quickly, for more information about how Inspired Property Management could alleviate some of your horrors get in touch with one of our expert property managers today by calling 01302 729500.