Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Fire Risk Assessment and Asbestos Survey

Health and safety checks are vitally important to protect people and keep them safe in the workplace and in the home. In shared buildings, office blocks and flats there is a need for regular fire safety checks as well as checks for asbestos. Sometimes the question arises as to who is responsible and who pays for the undertaking of these vital safety checks.


Fire safety assessment

The Regulatory Reform Order 2005 requires fire risk safety assessments to be carried out in flats, or a premise that contains common parts of two or more houses. The duty is on the responsible person who is managing the common parts. It includes freeholders, resident management companies, right to manage companies and others. 

The main purpose of an assessment is to protect people in the event of a fire, improve the existing fire safety measures and determine if, additional measures are required. The assessment is limited to common parts, and it does not extend to leaseholder’s own premises.

fire risk assessment and asbestos survey
Fire risk assessment and asbestos survey
The legislation states, these assessments must be reviewed periodically by the responsible person and kept up to update. The frequency of risk assessment may depend upon the building concerned. For example, a small house with a small communal hallway may not need to have an assessment as frequently as large flats. 

Fire safety orders can be expensive and often costs involved in compliance such as the inspection cost itself, fire extinguishers, replacement of communal doors, etc. can be passed on to leaseholders by the freeholder or the responsible person depending on the terms of the lease. Modern leases include an obligation of freeholders to comply with statutory requirements with a right to recover the cost of this from leaseholders.

Asbestos checking 

There is a legal duty on the person responsible for managing the maintenance and repair of common areas in buildings and flats to manage asbestos. The major requirement is in the Asbestos control regulations 2012 and applies to common areas such as the staircase, foyers, corridors, lifts, etc.

asbestos checking and removal
Asbestos checking and removal
The duty of a person is to ascertain whether the premises have asbestos, where it is and what condition it is in, to assess the risk and prepare a plan to manage the risk and act on it. According to the HSE website buildings prior to 2000 may have asbestos, as it was extensively used as a building material between the year 1950's and 1980's.

Recovery of the cost of the survey and essential work resulting from this is based on similar principles as set out above for fire safety. The lease may allow for a recovery charge or the freeholder to bring the cost within the sweeping up clause.

Conclusion

It is beneficial to leaseholders have a check while flats are on sale, the purchase solicitors may ask for confirmation that a risk assessment was carried out for fire safety and asbestos as a matter of course and ask for evidence. It may cause an issue with a sale if this is not available.

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