Fire safety in communal areas
Fire in a communal area could spread between homes. As building owners, we carry out regular fire risk assessments of all communal areas.
What do we mean by communal areas?
Communal areas are spaces in your building that other people share – like landings, entrance lobbies, corridors, meter cupboards, lifts, open walkways and balconies.
Keeping communal areas clear
Obstructions could make it more difficult for the emergency services to reach you and might prevent you from leaving the building in an emergency. If there is a fire in your building, there should be nothing in these areas that could:
- Stop you leaving the building if instructed to do so by the emergency services
- Prevent help reaching you or your neighbours
- Give off toxic smoke or gas when burning
- Explode in high temperatures
- Cause fire to spread more quickly
If your home includes a balcony, you should never use this area to store gas barbecues or flammable items. We carry out periodic checks of balconies, for your own safety and that of your neighbours.
Gas appliances – your responsibilities
As a leaseholder, you are responsible for the gas appliances within your property such as the gas boiler, gas cooker, gas hob or gas fire, pipework and flues. All installation, maintenance and safety checks need to be carried out by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Remember to ask to see the engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card to confirm they are registered and able to carry out the necessary work. Please keep your documentation safe as we may also ask to see evidence that you have had a gas service.
In an emergency
Make sure you know what to do in a gas emergency and that you know how to turn off the gas supply. Recognising the signs of a gas leak or carbon monoxide poisoning could save your life. Any one of the following could indicate that there is carbon monoxide in your home:
- Yellow or orange flames on your gas cooker – they should be crisp and blue
- Dark staining on or around appliances
- Pilot lights that frequently blow out
If you think that carbon monoxide is present or if you have a carbon monoxide detector installed and the alarm sounds, get out into the fresh air. As soon as you are safe, call the 24 hour emergency gas service on 0800 111 999. If you smell gas, open your doors and windows, do not use any naked flame or electrical switches and turn off your gas supply.
Fire safety in apartment buildings
Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers. As a responsible landlord we have an extensive ongoing programme in place to check our buildings and carry out any work required, to ensure that we comply with government regulations and guidance.
Following the Grenfell tragedy, the government commissioned an Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. This led to the introduction of a new Building Safety Bill, which received Royal Assent to become an Act of Parliament in May 2022.
What is covered in this new Building Safety Act?
The Act particularly focuses on high-risk buildings where the spread of fire or structural defects could lead to the loss of life.
High-risk buildings are defined by their height and use. This means that all buildings that are at least 18 metres in height or have at least seven storeys, with a minimum of two residential homes, are specifically covered under the new regulations. Care homes are also included.
A key aspect of this new legislation is resident engagement which will be overseen by a new Building Safety Regulator within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
What will it mean for me?
In practical terms, these new government regulations and guidelines have been developed to ensure your safety in the event of a fire in your building.
The new Building Safety Regulator will oversee the safe design, construction and occupation of high-risk buildings so that residents are safe and feel safe. It will be independent and give expert advice to residents and local regulators, landlords, building owners and the construction industry.
Setting out a stronger role for residents, the Regulator aims to ensure that residents’ voices are properly heard and listened to. Residents will also be entitled to receive core information about their building’s safety, with the right to request more details.
What are you doing to ensure the safety of customers living in high-rise buildings?
In line with our safety-first approach, we are appointing Building safety managers for each of our complex buildings. These managers will be responsible for ensuring the safety of the buildings they manage and its residents.
They will actively engage with residents, encouraging them to get involved and raise any safety concerns they may have, and keep them informed about building safety in an open and transparent way.
By working together you can help us to keep you safe.
What happens next?
Although the Building Safety Bill is now an Act of Parliament, the final phase of the regime is expected to come into force within the next twelve to eighteen months, so please look out for further updates here.
We will also be sharing who your building safety manager is on here very soon, so please regularly check back for updates.
Fire door checks
Homes Plus inspectors are now safety-checking all fire doors in apartment blocks every six months. If your home is in one of these buildings then please be aware that your doors – including the entrance to your apartment and any store doors – will be included in this programme. Even if you are responsible for your door under the terms of your lease, we will still check your door and let you know if any remedial work is required.