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Fire Safety in the Common Parts of Flats & HMOs – New Rules From Monday 23rd January 2023

Posted on January 20th, 2023

On Monday 23rd January, the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 will come into force. 

Most of the rules cover high rise buildings, however regulations 9 & 10 will cover all buildings which contain two or more sets of domestic premises & all buildings
which contain common parts through which residents would need to evacuate in the case of an emergency. Therefore, in addition to buildings containing self-contained flats, these rules will also apply to properties with rooms let on individual tenancies in a shared house – i.e. HMOs.

If a property comprises of two maisonettes with front doors on the street and no communal area, these regulations will not apply.

Responsible persons will have to follow two key requirements –

  • Providing fire safety instructions to occupants
  • Providing information on fire doors in the property


All information from gov.uk.

To which buildings do the Fire Safety (England) Regulations apply?

These Regulations apply to all buildings in England that comprise two or more domestic premises (including the residential parts of mixed-use buildings) although there are more requirements depending on the height as explained in this guide.  These buildings are, principally, blocks of flats (whether purpose-built or converted from another type of building, such as a house or office building), but also include blocks used for student accommodation.

The Regulations apply regardless of whether the flats are subject to a long (e.g. 99 years) lease or are rented, and regardless of whether the flats are used to accommodate the general public or a particular group of people (as in the case of, for example, sheltered housing for older people).

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations impose duties on you if you are the Responsible Person for any building which:

  • contains two or more sets of domestic premises
  • contains common parts through which residents would need to evacuate in the case of an emergency

The Regulations apply to:

  • parts of the building that are used in common by the residents of two or more domestic premises (e.g. communal corridors and stairways)
  • flat entrance doors
  • the walls and floors that separate any domestic premises from other domestic premises, plant rooms, etc, or from parts of the building that are used in common by the occupants of two or more domestic premises
  • plant rooms and other non-domestic areas of the building, such as tenant halls, offices, laundries, gymnasia and commercial premises
  • external walls of the building, including doors or windows within an external wall, and attachments to an external wall (e.g. balconies).

The Regulations do not apply within individual flats, other than in respect of measures installed within flats for the safety of other residents of the building (e.g. sprinklers, smoke detectors connected to a communal fire alarm system, etc).

Enforcement of the Regulations is the responsibility of the same enforcing authority as enforces the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  In the case of a block of flats, this is virtually always the local fire and rescue authority.

Do the Regulations only apply to high-rise residential buildings?

The sections that follow begin with requirements that apply to all residential buildings.  There then follow requirements that apply only to buildings of greater than 11m in height.  Finally, the guidance sets out requirements that apply only to high-rise residential buildings.  The section headings make it clear whether the section applies to all residential buildings, only to buildings of greater than 11m in height, or only to high-rise residential buildings.

Because Grenfell Tower was a high-rise block, much of the focus of the recommendations of the Public Inquiry was concerned with measures to ensure the safety of residents in high-rise blocks of flats.  However, the Government is determined to ensure that residents of all residential buildings are as safe as possible from fire and that they feel safe from fire.

What is a high-rise residential building?

For the purpose of the Regulations, a residential building is to be considered as high-rise if either of the following circumstances apply:

  • the building is at least 18 metres above ground level, measured from the lowest ground level adjoining the outside of the building to the height of the floor in the top storey (ignoring any top storey that contains only plant or machinery); or
  • the building is seven storeys or more, excluding any storeys below ground level).

A mezzanine floor is to be treated as a storey if its floor area is at least 50% of the floor area of the largest storey in the building which is not below ground level.

Responsible Persons

It is the Fire Safety Order that defines the meaning of Responsible Person in the context of both the Order and the Fire Safety (England) Regulations.

As the term “Responsible Person” has a legal definition, it is not open to building owners, enforcing authorities or others to choose to “make” someone the Responsible Person, nor can the responsibility for compliance with either the Fire Safety Order or the Fire Safety (England) Regulations be delegated to others (though the Responsible Person will normally need to engage other parties, such as contractors, to assist them in compliance).

Under certain circumstances, duties can also fall on individuals other than the Responsible Person if any of the requirements of the Fire Safety Order relate to matters within their control.  In such circumstances, the Responsible Person will still also retain their duties under the Fire Safety Order.

For all practical purposes, in the case of a block of flats, the Responsible Person will be the person who has control of the premises in connection with carrying on a business.  This will, typically, be the freeholder or the managing agents for the block, or, for example, a residents’ management company.

If any part of the building is a workplace, the employer of persons employed to work in that workplace will be a Responsible Person.  This can occur if, for example, a concierge is employed or parts of the building are used for commercial purposes.

So, there may be circumstances in which there is more than one Responsible Person within the same building.  However, even in these circumstances, overall control of the building most commonly rests with the freeholder, managing agents or a residents’ management company.

Sometimes, confusion arises from the term “Person”, because it might be expected that the “Responsible Person” is an individual living person (or what, in law, is described as a “natural person”). However, commonly, the Responsible Person will be an organisation, such as a property company or firm of managing agents (or what, in law, is described as a “legal person”).

If you are unclear as to whether you are the Responsible Person for the purpose of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations, or otherwise are unsure as to the correct identity of the Responsible Person, you should seek legal advice. It is not the role of, for example, the fire and rescue service to advise you in this respect, though, in enforcing the Regulations, the fire and rescue service may require to be informed as to the identity of the Responsible Person.

Duties of the Responsible Person (General)

Information to residents

You must display fire safety instructions in a conspicuous part of the building.  The instructions must be in a comprehensible form that residents can reasonably be expected to understand.

The instructions must cover the following matters:

  • the evacuation strategy for the building (e.g. stay put or simultaneous evacuation)
  • instructions on how to report a fire (e.g. use of 999 or 112, the correct address to give to the fire and rescue service, etc.)
  • any other instruction that tells residents what they must do when a fire has occurred

These instructions must also be provided directly to new residents as soon as reasonably practicable after they move into their accommodation, as should also be the case if there are any material changes to the instructions (e.g. as a result of alterations to the building).  In addition, these instructions should be reissued to all existing residents at periods not exceeding 12 months.

You must also provide relevant information about fire doors, particularly residents’ flat entrance doors, as these play an important part in containing any fire within the flat in which it starts.  In particular, you must provide information to all residents to the effect that:

  • fire doors should be shut when not in use
  • residents or their guests should not tamper with self-closing devices on fire doors
  • residents should report any fault with, or damage to, fire doors immediately to the Responsible Person

Again, the information about fire doors must be provided to residents as soon as reasonably practicable after they move into their flat and at periods not exceeding 12 months thereafter.


SWLA recommend that landlords provide the information to tenants at the start of each tenancy. For existing tenants – provide the information as soon as possible and document that you have done so.  


For more information please see the gov.uk guidance;

Check your fire safety responsibilities under the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Read the regulations here;



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