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The Resident's Guide To Managing A Block Of Flats

buildings

26/01/2018, Tim Davies - Commercial Manager

Keeping on top of your statutory requirements

This set up not only relies on good neighbourly relations but the co-operation of all residents in the block in ensuring the building is a pleasant place to live. Statutory requirements, of course, need to be complied with which create a safe environment for all residents and visitors to the property. That way, you are keeping the risk of incidents and blame to a minimum. 

Having said that, the Directors of the Residents Management Company (RMC) are often unpaid volunteers, perhaps with no other experience of being an officer of a Limited company, which brings its own set of concerns that they are carrying out their role correctly. In other words, even if they are present, as a resident, you will need to take a proactive approach to keeping your building safe for not only yourself but for other residents and visitors. 

Of course, this can end up being a headache for everyone, but it doesn't have to be that way. Following these simple guidelines will help ensure your building stays healthy and happy for everyone.

 

Health and Safety

The common areas of blocks of flats (areas in the building which everyone and anyone can use) fall under Health & Safety at Work regulations, and the RMC has a duty to keep them safe.

  • It’s always best to keep the common areas clear and ensure there are no bikes or prams blocking hallways.
  • Always make sure that all garden areas, paths, carpets, staircases are kept in good, safe order to avoid slips and trips. Report anything that needs fixing (if it’s not down to you) as soon as you can to your landlord or maintenance team. This won't take up a lot of your spare time if you keep an eye on these areas as regularly as possible.
  • If you decide, as a resident, to carry out any basic maintenance that requires the use of equipment e.g. ladders to change light bulbs, always make sure the equipment is safe, checked after use and replace anything that’s damaged.
  • Whilst specialist sub-contractors carrying out work at the property should carry out their own risk assessments, you should still ensure that the environment is safe for them to work in, particularly in relation to any work at height.

 

How to reduce the risk of fire in your building

Again, blocks have a requirement to carry out Fire Risk Assessments of common areas, and the following should be considered:

  • Note any slip and trip hazards when escaping the building in an emergency
  • Smoking isn't permitted in the common areas anyway but always make sure everyone is aware of this. To help, there should be a sign visible clearly stating this.
  • All emergency lighting needs to be in full working order.
  • All electrical installations should be kept in good condition and kept out of the away of any areas where someone is likely to trip over wires etc. 
  • Cupboards tend to be places were things get dumped and forgotten but despite being behind a door, they still come with their own risk. Always check to make sure there isn't a build up of flammable items including newspapers, paints and solvents.

 

Is there Asbestos in your block of flats?

Common areas fall under the Control of Asbestos regulations and although newer buildings don’t feature this material anymore, chances are an older building does. It is important to remember that failure to comply carries a hefty fine and even, in some cases, imprisonment, so it is something that always has to be taken seriously. So, there is a duty anyway to determine whether the premises contains asbestos, and if so where it is and what condition it is in.

You will need to get a professional (if it’s part of your duty. If not, this will be down to the landlord) to:

  • Assess if asbestos is present
  • And if it is present, assess the risk it is to others in the building.
  • Do plan to manage the asbestos and make sure this is done carefully and by a professional. Never attempt to do this by yourself. 
  • Log all findings and make it available to any contractors working at the property. This will decrease their own risk too. 

 

Passenger lifts in your building

Lastly, passenger lifts, if your block has them may come under your responsibility. You might already know that there is a statutory requirement that lifts are thoroughly inspected by a competent person, every 6 months. If this service is not included within any maintenance contract for you personally, you will need to purchase an Engineering policy to ensure you are compliant with LOLER regulations. This won't cost a great deal and you can find out more by searching under LOLER regulations on the net.

 

What to do next:

 

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Email: admin@lumleyinsurance.co.uk

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