What You Should Know About Fire Safety in Commercial Properties

Fire safety has come to the attention of everyone, especially since the horrible events that have occurred in London. Within the Regulatory Reform Order 2005, there are relevant obligations that commercial properties have to meet. With that said, the rest of this article will discuss some of the most common problems that surround the Order and property transactions.

Who Do the Duties Apply To?

The responsible person is who the duties apply to. This can be either the employer or the person who manages or controls the property. This is in connection with them carrying out responsibilities involving taking care of the property.

However, it can be challenging to determine who controls the property when it comes to leased properties. Guidance suggests that both the tenant and landlord can bear responsibilities. Furthermore, if the lease is surrendered or forfeited by the landlord, then this means they are taking back control and this also means they are now the person responsible.

If the premise has common parts, then the management company is probably the one responsible for those parts. Tenants are typically responsible for the unit they reside in. This is why both tenants and landlords should determine who is responsible for the property.

Regulation 9: The Duty to Perform a Risk Assessment

Problem 1: It’s Not Clear What is Involved With a Risk Assessment

The person who is responsible has to carry out a risk assessment to which relevant people are exposed to. This can be challenging for people because the duty isn’t that descriptive, and the responsible person has to be the one to decide what is sufficient and suitable, given the nature of various factors, including the nature of the property and business. This can make things difficult for the purchaser or potential tenant because they will want to see the risk assessment. Consulting fire experts like TPT Fire can be extremely beneficial in these cases.

Failing to show a copy of a risk assessment to potential buyers and tenants can lead to delays. This is especially if they are persistent on seeing it, and many leases will insist that the tenant is responsible for compliance. This means they have to comply with relevant laws.

What Can You Do?

There are no criteria, but the government has laid out some guidelines such as: you should identify fire hazards and remove or reduce risks, identify people who are at risk and record all of your findings, as well as update fire risk assessments on a regular basis. Not only that but when the premise changes hands, the new owner or occupier will be the one responsible for addressing risk assessments.

Problem 2: Altering a Property to Avoid a Risk Assessment Review

There is no specific time frame to renew or replace a risk assessment. However, there are things that can trigger a review. One trigger is when there are material changes that are made to the premise.

Is There Anything You Can Do?

You can learn about the triggers for a review. Think about whether or not any alterations would have an effect on a risk assessment. For example, the proposed escape route might not be accessible if you decide to insert a partitioning that is de-mountable.

Regulation 14: Making Sure the Routes to Emergency Exists Are Clear

Potential Issue: The Escape Route Goes Onto Third-Party Land

If the emergency escape route goes over a property that isn’t owned by the owner of the premise, then the third party can block the route. They can also alter the route. This is why the route should be properly documented, but there is something you might be able to do.

As previously mentioned, you want to document everything. However, the seller tends to put the task onto the tenant or the purchaser, which means they try to have them be responsible for inspecting the property and they can form their own opinions about the property. This is why the tenant or purchaser should inspect the property before doing anything.

It is crucial for tenants or purchasers to be thorough in the inspection and they should have a clear understanding of the escape route. If they think it is an issue, then they should tell their solicitor about it. If necessary, they should take action to create a new escape route or they can try to renegotiate the escape route, but the main thing is for the tenant to know fully what they are getting themselves into.