Who is responsible for my front door in a communal / leasehold environment?

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By Alan Draper | Aug 2022

This article is designed educate leaseholders, Resident management companies (RMC’s), right to manage companies (RTM’s) and freeholders as to the fire safety responsibilities of each party relating, specifically, to flat front doors that open up to communal areas shared with other tenants.

We have focused on flat front doors as many leases will make these the responsibility of individual leaseholders, however, The Fire safety bill 2021, will assign the responsibility of the fire safety compliance of leaseholder’s front doors to “the responsible person” – In practice this will mean RMC’s, RTM’s and freeholders.

The law

Prior to the Fire Safety Act 2021, flat entrance doors in multi-occupied residential buildings may not have been routinely considered as part of the fire risk assessment process. The Fire Safety Act 2021 has removed the legal ambiguity and confirms that flat entrance doors are in scope of the Fire Safety Order.

Fire-safety, legislation refers to “the responsible person(s)” as having responsibility for fire safety.

Outside of a demise, this will likely be the freeholder, residents’ management company, right to manage company or the freeholder.

Inside of the demise, could potentially include the leaseholder as a responsible person is defined as “the person having control of the building or degree of control” although the legislation is unclear on this point.

Irrespective of the author’s opinion in the last paragraph, RMC’s, RTM’s and freeholders will be responsible for taking “reasonable endeavours” to ensure leaseholders are adhering to fire safety regulations including checking front doors and advising of non-compliances.

Application of the law

All Buildings
Responsible persons for residential buildings below 11 metres in height have a duty to put in place general fire precautions in these buildings, this duty includes making sure that all fire doors – including flat entrance doors – are capable of providing adequate protection.
Responsible person(s) will also be required to provide residents in all residential buildings with (that have common parts) information on the importance of fire doors to a building’s fire safety

Buildings above 11 metres
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 will make it a legal requirement from 23 January 2023 for responsible persons for all multi-occupied residential buildings in England with storeys over 11 metres in height to:

  • undertake quarterly checks of all fire doors (including self-closing devices) in the common parts (landing doors of lifts excluded)
  • undertake annual checks of all flat entrance doors (including self-closing devices) that lead onto a building’s common parts.

What should a fire door be capable of and how do I check this?

In all cases, a fire door should be capable of withstanding fire for up to 30 minutes and it is a legal requirement for doors that open up to communal areas shared with other tenants.

Details of checks that should be made to flat front doors are covered in a separate article here

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