The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 will come into force on 23 January 2023.
The rules broadly cover high-rise buildings, some relating to those over 11 metres and some to those 18 metres or at least seven storeys with communal areas.
However, regulations 9 and 10 relate to all buildings with two or more domestic premises and communal areas.
“Domestic premises” isn’t defined, but as the regulations are made under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, we have to assume that in addition to buildings containing self-contained flats, these rules will also apply to rooms let on individual tenancies in a shared house.
If a building comprises two maisonettes with front doors on the street and no communal area, these regulations will not apply.
Who is liable to provide the information?
A “responsible person” would typically be the freeholder of the building or a block manager.
Sometimes if a landlord has converted the property into two separate dwellings and instructs a letting agent to manage both properties, the letting agent could be, by default, seen as a responsible person.
Fire safety instructions to residents (regulation 9)
A responsible person must display fire safety instructions prominently in communal areas. The instructions must include:
- how to evacuate a building,
- how to report a fire to fire and rescue, and
- any other instruction that tells residents what they must do when a fire has occurred.
In addition, the responsible person must provide a copy of those instructions:
- to all residents within the building within 12 months of the start of the regulations;
- to a new resident, as soon as reasonably practicable after they move in; and
- to all residents every 12 months.
The guidance says:
These instructions will be provided to residents upon a change and on an annual basis to ensure that residents always have up-to-date information and an annual refresher when there is no change.
If there are any material changes to the instructions, the new instructions must be displayed prominently in the building and a copy provided to all residents.
Fire doors (regulation 10)
The responsible person must also provide information about fire doors in the building, whether or not they are within the individual dwelling or the communal parts. The information must include that:
- all fire doors to be kept closed when not in use,
- residents or their guests should not tamper with any self-closing devices, and
- residents should immediately report any fault or damages to the fire doors to the responsible person.
The information must be given to all existing occupiers within 12 months of when the regulations commence and to all new occupiers as soon as reasonably practicable after that resident moves in. Furthermore, the information must be given every 12 months as a refresher.
Fire doors – building above 11 meters
In addition to the information requirements, where a building contains two or more sets of domestic premises and is above 11 metres in height, the responsible person must:
- use best endeavours to undertake checks of fire doors at the entrances of individual domestic premises at least every 12 months.
- keep a record of the steps taken to comply. In any case, where access was not granted during any 12 months, the actions that the responsible person took to try and gain access.
- undertake checks of any fire doors in communal areas of the building at least every three months.
The checks must, in particular, ensure that the doors’ self-closing devices are working and also:
- if there have been any alterations or damage to a door’s glazing apertures or air transfer grille
- if there are any gaps around the door frame and that seals and hinges are fitted correctly
- that the door closer shuts the door
- that the door closes correctly around the whole frame
- that there is no visible damage (either deliberate or from wear and tear) to the door or door closer
Height measurement is to be calculated to “the height to the top storey” following Appendix D to Approved Document B.
In regulation 9, the responsible person must ensure that fire safety instructions are prominently displayed and a copy given to all residents every 12 months and all new residents as soon as practicably possible after they move in. We intend to add an A4 leaflet which will be added to the tenancy agreement by Tenancy Builder and separately for sending each year.
In regulation 10, you will need to ensure information about fire doors is provided to occupiers every 12 months and all new residents as soon as practicably possible after moving in. Again, we intend to offer an A4 leaflet attached to the tenancy via Tenancy Builder and separately for annual sending.
This article hasn’t considered high-rise buildings at least 18 meters high or seven storeys which have further extensive duties.