How to Manage A Block of Flats for Residents
January 26, 2018, Tim Davies.
Properties which split into flats are unique buildings and more of us are living in them than ever before. You might have heard of block of flats insurance which covers houses converted into flats as well as purpose-built blocks.
Whichever one you live in, they are, in effect, a collection of people’s homes. But did you know that unlike a freehold house, the nature of their set up places joint responsibilities on ALL the owners?
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense that everyone should have shared responsibility for the building that they share, no matter what the block insurance policy covers. For example, the roof protects all the flats, the foundations hold up the whole building, and the common areas are for the use of all. One person’s ceiling is often another person’s floor.
Keeping on top of 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.
However, 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.
This can end up being a headache for some residents and volunteers alike. Therefore, we recommend following these simple guidelines and you can ensure your building stays healthy and happy.
1. Health & Safety
The common areas of blocks of flats 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.
- If residents carry out any basic maintenance requiring use of equipment e.g. ladders to change light bulbs, make sure the equipment is safe and regularly checked 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:
- Slip and trip hazards when escaping the building in an emergency
- Smoking is not permitted in the common areas, and there should be signage advising this
- Emergency Lighting should be installed and maintained in working order
- The electrical installation should be kept in good condition
- Check for accumulation of flammable items in cupboards such as old paperwork or decorating materials
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. The duty is to ascertain whether the premises contain 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) to:
- Assess if asbestos is present
- If present, assess the risk to others
- Plan to manage the asbestos
- Log all findings, and make it available to any contractors working at the property
Lastly, passenger lifts. 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.
What to do next
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This article has been tagged with:# Blocks of flats insurance # Residence management company # LOLER regulations
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