Living in a flat
Living in a flat can mean that more than one person is responsible for keeping you safe from fire.
We hope this information will help you understand who you need to speak to in order to find out more details about your home.
If you can’t find the answer you are looking for, please get in touch and we will do our best to help.
The Government's Fire Kills campaign has created a leaflet for you which may be of help.
If there is a fire inside your flat, you should get out, stay out and call 999:
- Don’t waste time investigating what’s happened or rescuing valuables.
- Move as quickly but as safely as you can as you exit the building.
- Close doors behind you to slow down the spread of fire and smoke. Make sure your flat front door is fully closed in particular.
Flats should all have their own evacuation policy so people know what to do if there is a fire in another part of the building.
You should contact your landlord to find out the correct approach for your building.
Because of all the different people involved in looking after a building, it is helpful to understand a few things first….
- If you are a freeholder, you will own the property and land. This role is sometimes also called a landlord.
- If you are a leaseholder, you'll own the property for a fixed period of time (the lease) but not the land it is built on. Your lease will have specific legal conditions which you must follow.
- If you are a tenant, you will normally have a tenancy agreement which sets out your rights and responsibilities. You do not own the property but rent it instead.
If you are a resident in a flat where there is a known evacuation strategy for the premises/ building, these videos are designed to assist you in the event of a fire. They have been produced by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service but are applicable in East Sussex.
I live in a flat – who is responsible for fire safety?
The laws around fire safety refer to what is known as the “Responsible Person”.
In a block of flats/Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) the ‘Responsible Person’ in law, is typically one or more of the following:
- The freeholder/the landlord
- The leaseholders (as far as the lease extends)
- Residential management company
- The managing agent
- The Right to Manage Company
These people need to work with each other to ensure the building is safe and the law is being complied with.
The Responsible Person must ensure that the building has a valid fire risk assessment, and you can ask for a copy of this. This is about understanding the potential risks, then improving fire safety measures to keep people safe.
Your front door
Front entrance doors to flats need to be fire-resistant and self-closing. The required standard is a door which provides 30 minute fire resistance with:
- Fire-retardant strips
- A self-closing mechanism
- Intumescent strips which are designed to swell when exposed to heat.
- Cold smoke seals which are brushes that go around the door, or door frame.
These help to prevent smoke from passing through the gaps.
Front entrance doors to individual flats are often the leaseholder’s responsibility.
The freeholder or managing agent/company has an important role to make sure that the leaseholders are complying with the requirements of their lease.
If the fire risk assessment flags up that the front entrance door is not fire compliant, it would be important to check the lease to see who is responsible for the door.
If you rent your property, please contact your letting agency or your landlord and ask them to confirm who is responsible for specific fire doors.
Inside your flat
Most fires in blocks of flats start within the individual flats themselves.
There are some simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and your loved ones in your home:
- Make sure you check the cooker is turned off and turn off and unplug electrical appliances.
- Put candles and cigarettes out properly, ensuring there are no embers still burning.
- Please turn heaters off and use fireguards if needed.
- Exits should be kept clear and you should close inside doors at night to stop a fire from spreading.
We carry out Home Safety Visits where we can give you or someone you know advice and help – call 0800 177 7069 for more information.
If you don’t already have them, please get yourself a smoke alarm for every level of your home. They will give you an early warning of a fire, enabling you to get to safety and call the emergency services.
There are specialist alarms available for anyone who cannot hear the standard alarms. These include lights and vibrating pads which can go under pillows.
Renting privately or a tenant in social housing?
Private sector landlords must have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their property. They are also expected to make sure that the alarm works as expected at the start of any new tenancy.
Additionally, they are legally obliged to install a carbon monoxide detector in any room containing a ‘solid fuel burning appliance’, for example a coal fire or wood burning stove. As with smoke alarms, they also need to check that the carbon monoxide detector works properly at the start of any new tenancy.
The Government will soon be extending these requirements beyond privately rented to include all social tenanted premises.
A note about Houses of Multiple Occupation
Your home is a house in multiple occupation (HMO) if both of the following apply:
- at least 3 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household
- you share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants
Your home is a large HMO if both of the following apply:
- at least 5 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household
- you share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants
A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:
- married or living together - including people in same-sex relationships
- relatives or half-relatives, for example grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
- step-parents and step-children
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), especially if they require a licence, will have enhanced fire safety rules, over and above the ones already highlighted.
This should include:
- Keeping all exits clear from obstructions
- Making sure the required equipment, such as fire extinguishers (one on each floor), blankets (especially in the kitchen) and fire alarms are all installed properly and in good working condition
- Clearly marking fire exits and making sure instructions on what to do in case of a fire are clearly available to tenants, ideally displayed on the wall in a communal area
- Making sure you have annual gas safety checks
- Maintaining and checking the electrics and any appliances and having an electrical check every 5 years
- Ensuring any furniture and furnishings meet the fire resistance regulations
- Certified fire doors are fitted where required
Telephone: 0303 999 1000
Minicom: 01323 462 003
(Available/monitored 08:30 to 17:00 Monday to Thursday and 08:30 to 16:30 Friday excluding Bank Holidays).
We have included these as they may be of help. We are not responsible for the information on these websites.