Housing Fire Safety

This page is intended to give you an idea which (if any) law applies to a dwelling to protect relevant persons in case of fire. The advice on this page is not intended to be a definitive guide, or a substitute for competent advice that should be sought specifically based on your property.

Most private sector rented housing issues are dealt with by the Councils Private Sector Housing team under the Housing Act 2004 and in some circumstances the Housing Act and the Fire Safety Order will apply.  Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service have a legal duty to enforce the Fire Safety Order and the private sector housing team in the Council are the body responsible for enforcing the Housing Act 2004.

There are no fire safety laws that apply to a place of permanent residence occupied by one or more people forming one single household or family.

Privately owned domestic single private dwellings are however covered by building regulations for new planning applications (alterations to existing buildings and the building of new homes).  For some alterations, building regulations may require the installation of mains operated smoke alarms that have a battery backup supply.  If you are planning on undertaking any building work, we strongly recommend that you go to the Councils Building Control Services page for further information and advice.

If you require any advice about home fire safety please go to our Keeping Safe page.

Fire safety within the home is an extremely important issue, especially where unrelated occupiers who live independently from one another, and share common areas of the same building e.g. purpose build flats, bedsits and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).  The laws covering these types of properties are the Housing Act 2004 and the Fire Safety Order.

The Fire Safety Order places a duty in relation to fire safety in the common areas of HMOs, flats, maisonettes and sheltered accommodation in which personal care is not provided. The duty is placed on the responsible person, who is required to carry out a fire risk assessment and take specific action to minimise the risk of fire in the common parts.  The responsible person for the purposes of fire safety provision and maintenance at the residential accommodation is the person having control, usually the landlord, owner or business.

The responsible person of the common parts of the building will need to ensure that they comply with the Fire Safety Order or enforcement action may be taken.

The guidance we may refer to is:

The Fire Safety Order will also apply to the entrance door fitted to the flat, maisonette or room (for HMOs) if it leads directly onto the common areas, because if a fire develops in the private dwelling it may compromise the common parts of the building.  Therefore a fire door must be fitted and not replaced with a lower standard door.

The Fire Safety Order does not apply to a place of permanent residence occupied by one or more people forming one single household or family.

However, the Housing Act 2004 will apply to ensure the health and safety of the tenants.  The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 which come into force on the 1 October 2015, require landlords to install and check smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms. The Housing Act 2004 and The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 are enforced by the Private Sector Housing team.

If you rent your property out as a self-catering holiday let, the Fire Safety Order (fire safety law) applies to you if anyone pays to stay in your property, other than to live there as a permanent home.  For more information we recommend you go to our webpage specifically for self-catering holiday lets and also look at the Fire Safety Order.

Fire safety within the home is an extremely important issue, especially in mixed use premises (commercial and residential).  The laws covering these types of properties are the Housing Act 2004 and the Fire Safety Order.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service have a legal duty to enforce the Fire Safety Order in all places of work and in the common areas of all residential accommodation not forming a single private dwelling.  The duty is placed on the responsible person, who is required to carry out a fire risk assessment and take specific action to minimise the risk of fire, ‘responsible person’ means “the person who has control of the premises in connection with the carrying on of a trade, business or other undertaking”.  This can be the employer or the nominated responsible person who has control over the premises.

The guidance we may refer to will depend upon the property, this could be;

The Fire Safety Order applies in England and Wales and covers general fire precautions and other fire safety duties which are needed to protect ‘relevant persons’ in case of fire in and around most non-domestic ‘premises’ (with a few minor exceptions).

The Order requires fire precautions to be put in place ‘where necessary’ and to the extent that it is reasonable and practicable in the circumstances to do so.  Under the Fire Safety Order, the responsible person must carry out, or appoint a competent person to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment.  Please refer to our webpage for more information on the Fire Safety Order.

The Housing Act 2004 has a range of formal powers that relate specifically to the regulation of standards in the private sector housing stock with the aim to improve the standard of privately rented housing.

The Housing Act 2004 introduced a new approach to assess housing conditions: the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).  The HHSRS is a risk assessment methodology that identifies certain hazards in a property that could threaten the health and safety of the occupants.  Hazards are rated in terms of their severity, a category 1 hazard being the highest.  It is this process that will be used to provide the evidence necessary to justify any enforcement action.

For more information about the Housing Act, please go to the Private Sector Housing page.

Any fire safety issues with housing should be directed to Private Sector Housing by using the contact information below.

Telephone:

0300 1234 151

Post:

Private Sector Housing
Council Offices
Dolcoath Avenue
Camborne
Cornwall
TR14 8SX

Email:

psh@cornwall.gov.uk