Amidst the parliamentary wrangling over who should pay for cladding remediation, it may have escaped leaseholders’ notice that the new Fire Safety Act, which passed into law in April, includes new rules on front doors. In the past, flat front doors were “demised” to the resident. Or in other words they were the responsibility of the flat owner and, for the purposes of the fire safety regulations, they weren’t included in the common parts of the building overseen by the property manager. Now all that has changed. The new Act has amended the existing fire safety rules set out in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 [FSO] to cover not only “the external walls of the building, including cladding” but also “fire doors for domestic premises of multiple occupancy”. What this means in reality is that if your front door doesn’t meet the required standard, in order to meet fire safety regulations you will be obliged to replace it with one that does. This is because flat front doors play a key role in compartmentation – or in other words they help prevent a fire spreading from your flat to others in your block. So if your door doesn’t provide the right level of protection the whole floor or even your block could be compromised.
As a result of the new Act, managing agents now have to arrange regular fire door inspections. And that includes giving them access to your front door – from the inside too to ensure it fits correctly and the self-closer works. ‘Regular’ is not defined, however general guidance from the BWF-CERTFIRE Best Practice Guide and London Fire Brigade say that all fire doors should be inspected every six months. So better, safer blocks - no one can argue with that. But there will be increases to the service charge to cover the costs of additional inspections and we'll be talking more about that later this week.
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