Fire safety for landlords - how the Council and Mid and West Wales Fire Authority will work together.
The Housing Act 2004 applies to all residential properties, the Fire Safety Order also applies to some of these and this can be confusing for landlords.
Carmarthenshire County Council (CCC) and Mid and Weast Wales Fire Authority (MAWW) have agreed to work together so that there are clear and practical arrangements to help landlords comply with both pieces of legislation.
Our approach to the guidance
We have agreed to adopt the same approach to decide what fire safety measures are appropriate in a particular property. This is the risk assessment approach contained in national guidance commissioned by the Government. If the guidance is followed landlords can be confident they have met both sets of legal requirements.
The guidance has been written with landlords in mind and for the majority of properties there will be no need to employ fire risk assessors as the guidance is clear and methodical and includes a proforma on which to record the risk assessment. It is not a set of standards, there can be a number of ways of reducing the fire risk.
Who does what?
We have agreed who will be the 'lead' authority for particular types of property (see below). This is to avoid duplication for landlords. However, this doesn't remove the legal powers each authority has - particularly if an emergency arises. We will be informing each other about the action we have taken.
This chart shows the different types of buildings and whether Carmarthenshire County Council (CCC) or Mid and Weast Wales Fire Authority (MAWW) will act as the 'lead' authority.
||All Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO), whether or not subject to licensing
||All self-contained flats whether purpose built or converted
||Premises with mixed commercial and associated* residential accommodation and sheltered housing
*Associated means there isn't independent access which is adequately fire separated, so where residential accommodation such as an HMO is completely separated from commercial accommodation then CCC will take the lead in the HMO and MAWW in with the commercial accommodation.
** Where a kitchen is used to provide board. If food only is provided, the property will be treated as an HMO.
What private rented properties does the Fire Safety Order apply to?
Information can be found at - follow the link www.mawwfire.gov.uk
to Commercial Fire Safety. However, the following information has been provided in consultation with MAWW and may assist. The Order applies to the common parts of properties let as:
• shared houses on multiple tenancies (not if joint tenancy)
• self contained flats
• properties with mixed use of bedsits/shared accommodation and flats.
What happens if Carmarthenshire County Council as the lead authority inspect my property and find a fire safety hazard?
CCC will assess the fire safety hazard using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System and will refer to the guidance to specify what work is needed. This work will reduce the fire safety hazard to a satisfactory level; this will not necessarily mean that on completion of the work the guidance will be fully complied with.
Landlords will be informed if CCC believes that the Fire Safety Order applies, this can be checked with MAWW. As the guidance represents 'best practice', all landlords will be recommended to fully comply with the guidance.
Where the Order applies and the work specified by CCC is completed MAWW will accept that fire safety measures have been improved. If the work is in accordance with the guidance then a landlord can be assured that the measures needed under the Order have also been provided. Landlords should be aware that MAWW may contact them at a future date to audit the risk assessment and fire safety measures provided as a result.
What happens if I have a property where there is commercial and residential accommodation that is not totally separate or the property is a hostel with a kitchen to provide board?
MAWW is the lead authority. MAWW may from time to time check compliance with the Fire Safety Order. If CCC are informed of any concerns about fire safety measures these will be referred to MAWW.
Compliance with the guidance will mean that subsequent action under the Housing Act is most unlikely. If CCC have cause to inspect the residential part any fire safety problems will be referred to MAWW. However, CCC still have powers to act if there is an emergency.
What happens if there is a commercial part of the property that is completely separate from the living accommodation?
You are advised to follow the guidance for the living accommodation and consult with MAWW about the commercial part and how there might need to be common fire safety measures e.g. fire alarm. If CCC and MAWW become involved in the property they will then liaise about any requirements and let you know what these are.
What happens if I have converted the property to the latest Building Regulation standards for fire safety?
The fire safety measures are likely to be satisfactory as long as there have been no alterations to the layout. If the Fire Safety Order applies MAWW may inspect to check compliance with other aspects of the Fire Safety Order.
All this is still rather confusing, what is the best thing to do to make sure my property meets all legal requirements?
The guidance has been written to help landlords meet their responsibilities for fire safety and following this is strongly recommended to all landlords by Carmarthenshire County Council and Mid and West Wales Fire Authority. The guidance is quite lengthy but is set out so landlords can follow it methodically and produce a risk assessment or you can instruct a private consultant to do this for you. View a risk assessment template for this purpose.