Social Housing Speed Read – New Responsibilities for Housing Providers Under Amended Fire Safety Provisions
10th November, 2023
Following the tragic Grenfell Tower incident, amendments have been made to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 ("FSO") by Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022.
This brings new fire safety responsibilities which housing providers must be aware of. These new requirements came into force on 1 October 2023 and aim to improve fire safety in all buildings regulated by the FSO.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 governs the fire safety of all workplaces and the common parts of buildings containing 2 or more domestic premises. Anyone in control of these premises (“Responsible Persons”) must meet certain obligations to keep employees and tenants safe. Section 156 of Building Safety Act 2022 makes clear the division of responsibility in multi-occupied buildings which can often be legally and physically complex and ensures that Fire Risk Assessments are suitable and sufficient.
The Additional Requirements
They apply to all non-domestic premises, such as where people visit or stay and the non-domestic parts of multi-occupied residential buildings (e.g. communal corridors, stairways, plant rooms). The requirements do not apply within individual domestic premises.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 clarified that the external walls, flat entrance doors and structure of buildings are all covered by the FSO and so must also be accounted for in fire risk assessments.
The new legislation amends the Fire Safety Order with the following requirements for Responsible Person(s) (“RP”):
- Must record their completed fire risk assessment, and in full (where previously only specific information was required to be recorded).
- Must record their fire safety arrangements (demonstrate how fire safety is managed in your premises) and have this in a format that is easily understood by residents.
- Must share all fire safety information with other Responsible Persons for the building, especially where one RP is being replaced by another.
- All RPs for a multi-domestic unit premises must record (and update where applicable) their contact information, including a UK-based address, and share this with other RP’s and residents
The levels of fines for some related offences have also been increased to unlimited where they were once capped.
The effect on the Social Housing sector
Housing providers need to be alert to exactly which parts of their properties their responsibilities relate to, to ensure the safety of their tenants. If such responsibilities are not adequately followed they may face increased fines, with the level of a number of offences being raised from a Level 3 (£1,000) to a Level 5 (unlimited).
It is expected that a further legislative requirement will be brought in at a future date to ensure that a person appointed to make or review the fire risk assessment must be competent. Housing providers and landlords should be vigilant when this is introduced and consider how they can assess that any third party providers used are competent, which may include ensuring they have sufficient training, experience, knowledge and/or other similar qualities.
Housing providers and landlords of multi-occupied residential buildings are now under more stringent obligations to further strengthen fire safety in premises.
Full Guidance for persons with duties under the fire safety legislation can be explored here.
Gov.uk has also published a 5-step checklist to assist Responsible Persons in meeting their duties under the FSO which can be viewed here.
Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.
This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.