Fire Safety - Entrance Doors - Conflict of Interest?

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    Fire Safety - Entrance Doors - Conflict of Interest?

    I'm one of three directors of an RMC, looking after a leasehold property consisting of 11 flats in London.

    We had our annual fire risk assessment done recently and one of the things it threw up was noting that the entrance doors to one of the flats wasn't up to scratch re fire safety - it's not clear that it has an FD rating, it doesn't have smoke seals/intumescent strips around the frame, and there's no door closing mechanism. It looks like the sort of door you'd put on the front of a house, but this opens into a shared part of the inside of the building. It might not be possible to modify it to comply - it might need to be junked & replaced.

    The complication is that the flat concerned is owned by one of the other directors. He's a bit p***ed off because his door was quite expensive, and I sense that he's reluctant to throw it out & replace it. He's wearing two hats of course - as a director he should be trying to enforce good practice re fire safety, but as a leaseholder he's trying to avoid spending money.

    Is the management company's responsibility just to INFORM leaseholders of things they should do re fire safety, or to actually INSTRUCT them to do them? What do we do as a management company if he simply refuses to do it?

    Keen to avoid any conflict if possible, but I can't ignore important fire safety stuff!

    Thx.

    #2
    Assuming that the door is part of the demise of the flat, the FH has little or no right to make any demands, I believe. FH would only have a right to require the LH to make improvements to their door if the terms of the lease allowed for it.

    https://forums.landlordzone.co.uk/fo...-of-%C2%A32000
    There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

    Comment


      #3
      Thank you. The lease wording seems to be silent on this sort of thing. Don't know if it helps but the fire safety guy made the following comment:

      "A flat front door is of course a fundamental part of the fire resistance of a building and ownership and responsibility is usually delegated to the flat owner in most leases. However, Government guidance since Grenfell has made it clear that whilst the flat front door may be the responsibility of a flat owner, the Landlord or Management Company have a duty of enforcement where a front door is not compliant." The fire resistance of the front door is not simply for the benefit of that flat owner, but to protect all other residents if a fire breaks out in that flat. Bearing in mind of course that most fires do start in a flat and not the communal areas."

      Comment


        #4
        Even if the front door is owned by the leaseholder, every residential lease will have a clause requiring the leaseholder to comply with statute with regard to the demised property. Incidentally it is one of the inherent defects of RTM that there is not really any facility for sanctions for non monetary breaches by a member. It is the reason that there is still a place for a freeholder/landlord. Even if it falls to the landlord to make decisions that are not popular with everyone, it does actually have to be done. The ideal freeholder is a benign dictator.

        Comment


          #5
          https://imprivateclient.passle.net/p...ures-explained

          good article and recent case reference on this very point

          https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2021/989.html

          Comment


            #6
            It has recently been deemed out of date, but there is quite a relevant paragraph in Local Government Association guide "Fire safety in purpose-built flats" July 2011:

            28.5 Other than any part of the block that is a workplace, the responsibilities and duties imposed are limited to matters over which the person has control. Sometimes, flat entrance doors may be outside the control of a freeholder. For example, often, under each resident’s lease, the door is legally part of the demised premises and so responsibility for maintenance of the flat entrance door rests with the resident. The landlord has no legal right to force a tenant to upgrade the door to the current standard, nor to carry out the works unilaterally.
            Guidance has tended to indicate that improvement on prevailing regulations is not necessary - e.g. from the same source:

            23.3 It is wholly inappropriate to impose the current guidance for new blocks of flats retrospectively to existing buildings.
            23.5 It will often need to be accepted that it is neither realistic to meet current benchmark standards, nor risk proportionate to impose many of the solutions available today to the situations found in the designs of existing buildings.
            However, that said, removing a fire door and replacing it with non-fire door is not a good idea and would I presume breach regulations. Is the door in this case known to be a non-fire door, or is it just unknown?
            There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

            Comment


              #7
              There’s no FD rating visible on the door. Leaseholder says his father in law fitted the door in 2004 but didn’t keep the receipt, which might have mentioned the door’s fire safety rating. So it’s unknown. Possibly (?) FD marked underneath - leaseholder has offered to take the door off its hinges to inspect the bottom to see if it’s marked.

              incidentally another leaseholder has written me a slightly snotty email today, asserting (correctly or otherwise) that if his door complied with the regs in 2000 when it was fitted, any new regs won’t apply retrospectively (or is it retroactively? I always get those two words muddled up) so he can ignore them. This is with respect to the letterbox in his door which is the original item, not fire rated (FRA inspector wants to see letterboxes with intumescent liners). I’m unsure how to proceed. It’s all very petty though when the item he’d need is maybe £30 and I offered to install it for him at no cost because I’m nice etc. but he’s a deeply petty man. Still, I suppose there’s always one…everyone else has been very supportive in general.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by flyingfreehold View Post
                Even if the front door is owned by the leaseholder, every residential lease will have a clause requiring the leaseholder to comply with statute with regard to the demised property. Incidentally it is one of the inherent defects of RTM that there is not really any facility for sanctions for non monetary breaches by a member. It is the reason that there is still a place for a freeholder/landlord. Even if it falls to the landlord to make decisions that are not popular with everyone, it does actually have to be done. The ideal freeholder is a benign dictator.
                Have checked lease wording. It explicitly states that the door is deemed to be part of the demised premises, so that deals with that point.

                On the point about complying with statute - yes, the lease says:

                "Covenants Enforceable by the Landlord and Management Company...

                Para 20. To comply in all respects at the Tenant's own cost with the provisions of any statute statutory instrument order rule or regulation and of any order direction or requirement made or given by any planning authority or the appropriate Minister or Court (whether requiring anything to be done or omitted by landlord tenant or occupier) relating to the Demised Premises so far as the Tenant is liable hereunder and forthwith to give notice in writing to the Landlord of the making or giving of such order direction or requirement as aforesaid"


                So perhaps we can refer to this to force the issue?

                Comment


                  #9
                  In principle I think you could, as long as you can be specific about the law or planning regulation which has been broken and have evidence.
                  There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Its a bit of minefield. In some blocks the management are being very proactive and telling people the doors will be upgraded and like it or not were paying out of service charge money and in others controlled by an elected Board, the Directors are too scared of being voted out to show any leadership and hence they are not insisting on the doors and frames (some glazed) being upgraded. What a bunch of woosies

                    Comment


                      #11
                      "Para 20. To comply in all respects at the Tenant's own cost with the provisions of any statute statutory instrument order rule or regulation and of any order direction or requirement made or given by any planning authority or the appropriate Minister or Court (whether requiring anything to be done or omitted by landlord tenant or occupier) relating to the Demised Premises so far as the Tenant is liable hereunder and forthwith to give notice in writing to the Landlord of the making or giving of such order direction or requirement as aforesaid"

                      So perhaps we can refer to this to force the issue?"

                      Another angle is to tell him he's risking the insurance cover for the building.
                      Leasehold Property Enquiries (LPE1) for flat sales will ask if all FRA remedial actions have been completed and if not confirmation that the insurance company have accepted the current status

                      ... and of course as a director he is legally responsible for taking all reasonable steps to ensure the building meets fire safety standards.

                      As a last resort the local environmental health authority can be informed of potential risks from non-compliant flat entrance doors with powers to enforce under the Housing Act 2004.

                      My understanding is that the Fire Safety Act 2021 (when it finally becomes law) will *explicitly* include flat entrance doors adjoining common areas and make it straightforward to compel leaseholders to address such fire safety issues under the Fire Safety Order.

                      Hopefully your reluctant director will just own up that he changed his door without being aware of the need for the replacement to be fire-rated and bite the bullet (I'm guessing this is what happened as in umpteen thousand other flats).

                      Comment


                        #12
                        bigalxyz,

                        Suggest check along both edges of the door, looking for a 1cm diameter round metal plug with a coloured plastic insert in the middle. If painted this could have been covered up, so check carefully.........I found this regarding the same issue on my flat entrance door. Original door from 1989 when flats were built, and that denoted a FD30 door of the time, which of course still is a Fire Rated door, just needed top door closer and some Fire rated hinges from Screwfix at £12.00 for 3. Hope you find it.

                        Comment

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