Liability for Flat Entrance Doors

The Fire Safety Act 2021 clarified that flat entrance doors must be considered in the Fire Risk Assessment mandated by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO). The introduction of the The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 (FSER) in 2023 placed duties on the Responsible Person (RP) to undertake checks on flat entrance doors (Regulation 10) in all multi-occupied residential buildings in England with storeys over 11 meters in height.

The purpose of this post is to provide information that can be of use when responding to persons who have made an enquiry to the Protection team and highlight the existence of useful guidance documents for both the public and Fire Safety Regulators alike

Information & risks

Regulation 10 of the FSER require that the RP, in relation to a building which contains two or more sets of domestic premises and in which the top storey is more than 11 metres above ground level (typically, a building of more than four storeys) must use best endeavours to undertake checks of flat entrance doors that lead onto a building’s common parts at least every 12 months. The purpose of these checks is to ensure that self-closing devices are working and the fire doors including flat entrance doors are in efficient working order and in good repair. These checks are to ensure that the existing door standard is maintained.

Section 2.3 of the Government guidance states “This means that Regulation 10 applies to all blocks of flats (or parts of such blocks) that incorporate common parts, regardless of whether the block is purpose-built or is a conversion – for the purpose of this legislation, flat entrance doors are included within the meaning of ‘common parts’.” Note: The checks required under the regulations do not replace the existing duty under the FSO for the RP to put in place general fire precautions and their duties under Article 17 of the FSO in all buildings which are in scope of the FSO, regardless of height. The checks under Regulation 10 should be simple and basic and the responsible persons should not need to engage a specialist to carry these out. Note: It is understood that in some cases specialists have in fact been instructed to complete checks. A method for completing the checks required under the FSER is described in section 6.7 of the Government published guidance.

Where inspections identify the need for repair or replacement of any fire door (e.g. communal or flat entrance door), this work must be undertaken by a competent contractor as soon as reasonably practicable. It is for the Responsible Persons to determine how this is implemented. Liability for the associated costs of these works is a civil matter that an Enforcing Authority would not be involved in. The tenancy or lease agreement should be consulted in the first instance and will likely provide information as to who is responsible for maintaining or replacing the flat entrance door. If this information is not detailed legal advice should be sought.

Fire Safety Regulators should be aware of the Court of Appeal decision in the case of; Marlborough Knightsbridge Management Limited v Thierry Giles Fivaz Section 190. The Court of Appeal’s decision in this case was that the flat front door was part of the flat’s structure, and not a “landlord’s fixture”.
The RP is obliged under the FSO to ensure compliance with duties imposed by articles 8-22B and any regulations made under Article 24 and as such ultimately, they must ensure that issues are resolved. The RP is accountable for ensuring that their obligations under the FSO are satisfied. If they have to recover the costs for completing such work then this is considered to be a private matter. Should the leaseholder contract state that the leaseholder has control over the front door, then the leaseholder may be regarded as a ‘duty holder’ under Article 5(3) of the FSO. The following excerpt from the current edition of the Fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats guide published by the Secretary of State to assist RP’s in meeting their duties under the FSO provides useful information on the subject (please be aware that at the time of writing this PIN the guidance document is under review and an updated edition is expected to be released shortly.

Ultimately, liability for financing remediation works or replacement of a flat entrance door is not a matter for our concern as an Enforcing Authority.
Information that leaseholders/freeholders will require is likely to be contained within the lease agreement and each situation needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
If the lease does not clarify the responsibility it may be necessary to acquire good quality legal advice.

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