Handrail in stairwells

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    Handrail in stairwells

    I have a three storey block of six flats, they are 1950s build and have a stair case with a solid balastraude which has a rounded top about 100mm wide which acts as the handrail. One of our tenants has requested an additional handrail to be fitted to the wall of the staircase. Claiming it to be a H&S issue.Does anyone know are there any regulations which require a handrail to both sides of a stair well and does the rounded top balastraude qualify as a handrail?

    Couple of questions.

    Are you the lessor/freeholder?

    In my opinion, adding a second handrail is an "improvement". According to the leases for my block of flats, the cost of improvements cannot be reclaimed via the service charge. What do your leases say?

    If you are willing to install a second handrail, I would get written approval from the lessees and (most importantly) collect the money up front.


      There are no laws or regulations which would require you to fit a second handrail, so long as the property met the regulatory requirements at the time it was built.

      However, as with all of these things you have a general duty of care. It is unusual to see 2nd handrails fitted to stairs of normal domestic width and in all likelyhood I doubt there is any significant risk.

      Current Building Regs state that stairs less than 1m wide should have a handrail one side and those wider should have a handrail both sides. If you want to play safe then check the width, it it quite likely that the single handrail would comply with todays regulations anyway.

      One of the things that concerns me is that the personal injury claim industry is encouraging spurious claims, which often result in some sort of out of court settlement as nobody wants the risks associated with litigation. So when a tenant starts with "this is a health and safety issue" it rings alarm bells for me. The very least you should do is document your investigations and a risk assesment showiing how you arrived at your decision. In some instances, even if there is no specific rule saying you must do X or Y the low cost of doing so may be worth it to head off any potential claim later.
      NOTE: Steven Palmer BSc (Hons) MRICS MBEng is an official LandlordZONE Topic Expert and a Director of Davisons Palmer Lim Any advice given by Steven in this Forum is of a general nature only and should not be acted upon without first obtaining advice specific to your problem/situation from a professional.


        I should have added that current building rewgs relating to handrails can be found here.

        NOTE: Steven Palmer BSc (Hons) MRICS MBEng is an official LandlordZONE Topic Expert and a Director of Davisons Palmer Lim Any advice given by Steven in this Forum is of a general nature only and should not be acted upon without first obtaining advice specific to your problem/situation from a professional.


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