Introduction and Background
ACS has recently received numerous queries regarding responsibility for carrying out Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) in mixed tenure housing blocks. Generally, responsibility for carrying out FRAs will fall to the “dutyholder” which is generally defined as the person who has control of a premises. This can often be determined by identifying who has responsibility for repairs and maintenance of a premises. Though this can be relatively straightforward, it can be more difficult in mixed tenure stock.
Mixed Tenure Stock
In mixed tenure blocks, the organisation will own a percentage of properties within a block and others may be owned by private landlords, individuals, or indeed another organisation. The organisation may own a majority or a minority of properties within a block. It is necessary to interrogate any written agreements and/or deeds in place for the premises to identify if, and to what extent, the organisation is the, or indeed a, dutyholder.
However, deeds or written agreements may be silent on this point and maintenance or repair responsibilities may not be defined in writing at all. It is possible that responsibility has been assumed by a party if they have taken on responsibility for maintenance and repairs for some time. If that is not the case and there is no identifiable person that is in overall ‘control’ of the premises, then the dutyholder role is likely to be split across all owners within the block including private owners and landlords. This is referred to as a Tenement Management Scheme (TMS) and is further defined in Schedule 1 of the Tenement (Scotland) Act 2004. The TMS will set out what counts as maintenance, which areas of the building are covered by the scheme, how to come to agreements about maintenance and how maintenance costs are shared between owners. A factoring agreement may be in place which would likely give the Factor responsibility for arranging work but the legal responsibility for ensuring the work is carried out would still remain with the dutyholders.
It is recommended that each mixed tenure block is assessed on an individual basis to identify who has responsibility for fire safety management, including arranging for FRAs to be carried out. The situation can vary from block to block so it is important that each one is dealt with individually. Where responsibilities are not defined in writing, it is recommended that a written document is developed stating who has responsibility for arranging and paying for fire safety, and other, works. It may be appropriate for the organisation to act as the dutyholder even if they own a minority of properties in a block, if this is agreed by all other owners.
If you require further advice or guidance on this issue or other fire safety related topics contact our Health & Safety Consultant at firstname.lastname@example.org.