Communal parts FRA fire protection system, leasehold property – options, please?

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    Communal parts FRA fire protection system, leasehold property – options, please?

    Good morning, I’d be grateful for advice on liability to pay for a fire protection system for communal parts of a converted period building. I own a self-contained 900-square foot basement flat in a five storey Grade 2 listed building in east London. The conversion took place in the late 1980s, before the 1991 fire regulations came in. There are five, self-contained private flats in total within the building, three of these let out to tenants. One of the buy-to-let owners is selling and the new buyer’s solicitor, reasonably, wishes to know about fire safety compliance for insurance purposes.

    Consequently the five flat owners recently paid £400 for a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) The FRA recommends hard-wiring a BS5839-6 2017 Grade A fire alarm system into the building’s communal parts plus a BS5839-6: 2017 Grade D detection system with LD2 coverage, linked to each flat. I am not a fire protection professional so the finer detail is a little lost on me. I assume it would be a mains fed system.

    While the FRA recommendation sounds comprehensive, my situation is very different to the other four flats. My self-contained basement flat has a separate entrance. It also has three separate exits (two sets of separate patio doors plus a main kitchen door), opening onto the garden. I have two good quality battery fire alarms installed in the property plus a carbon monoxide detector. I have an option to set up a bluetooth Home Hub and have more protection including heat detectors.

    The other four leaseholders above me wish to share the (considerable) costs for their communal parts, linking me into it. I see little advantage, apart from the knowledge that other residents will be safer as I’m already robustly protected in terms of fire/smoke protection. I’ve no regular use of their communal parts though I’m entitled to access their hallway.

    I’d like to know, please, if I am obliged to have this expensive system hardwired into my flat, overlaying existing fire protection measures? Is there a specific British ‘standard’ which our building, and all five flats, must comply with, including mine? I am skeptical of hardwired ‘improvements’ being installed when, in some cases, it can be outdated as legislation changes and technology improves.

    I feel I have done everything I reasonably can already. Any thoughts on the liability to pay for this system proposed by the FRA would be v helpful. I’m sorry it is slightly complex. I have looked at the LACORS guidance but I still have no clear view.

    Thank you.

    London65

    #2
    The problem is that you may have protected yourself and your part of the Flat, but the other's haven't, if there is a fire in any of those flats, you would need to know as well.....

    The system they have suggested is the same as what a block has, they are all hard wired in the communal areas and in to the hallways, kitchen's living room etc of each of the flats. It is the responsibility of the freeholder to undertake this so that the insurance is still valid. If the property did catch on fire, all leaseholders incl. yourself would need to pay to get the property fixed if the insurance was invalid.

    I would suspect, the fire alarm system would be hard wired as well as have a back up power (battery) as well as emergency lighting in the shared parts to escape in case of an actual fire. If the recommendations aren't implemented, there would be a case that the insurance may be void.

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      #3
      Ash, thank you for reading my lengthy email with care. That's a helpful view. Currently the person handling our building's insurance has ticked 'Yes' to the Statement of Fact question on our buildings policy with AXA: Does the business comply with the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 or the equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland?
      I do not think we have complied and therefore may have misrepresented ourselves to AXA. In the event of a fire our insurance cover may not be worth the paper it's typed on, if correct. I am taking this up with the insurer (again) on Monday this week for further clarification, with urgency.

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        #4
        Two separate issues here
        a) Is the new alarm system needed (I'm not going to discuss that)
        b) Is the fact that it is not needed by YOU mean that YOU do not have to pay for it. That is determined entirely by your lease. Your use of the thing is completely irrelevant.

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          #5
          Thanks for this, Andrew. I am talking to both a lease lawyer and AXA shortly on whether we are obliged to have a mains-fed system for all flats given that we are a pre-1991 building regs conversion. We do need to know whether we have misrepresented ourselves on the Statement of Fact (Sof) by saying Yes to the requirements of the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005. Our broker emailed me on Friday to say we are insured (obviously) but this matters not a jot if we have inadvertently made a fraudulent statement on the SoF. Insurance companies are forensic when it comes to claims, as they’ve a right to be.
          Last edited by London65; 09-01-2022, 14:22 PM. Reason: Poor grammar

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            #6
            It is going to be hard to argue against having a fire alarm system that links into the flats - for a converted building.

            I agree that some fire alarm systems serve little purpose - or even no purpose, and might not even be audible within the flats at all.
            Your personal situation is likely irrelevant.

            Comment


              #7
              An underlying question is , if a private building converted to flats before the 1991 building regs and 2005 Order is required to meet these in the building. Is it obliged to meet modern standards ? If not they can structure what they decide is useful. Must it be linked to emergency lighting ?

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