Fire and Asbestos Requirements…

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We are often asked by both buyers and sellers on leasehold conveyancing transactions why requests have been made to see copies of fire risk assessments and asbestos surveys for a building.

The requirements are as follows:-

Fire
Under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, if the building has common parts, the “responsible person” for the building is legally obliged to ensure that a fire risk assessment of the common parts is carried out and complete any recommended works highlighted in that assessment. The “responsible person” is typically the person who has primary responsibility for a property. In the case of residential flats, the “responsible person” is likely to be the freeholder or their managing agent.

Failure to comply with the regulations could potentially lead to enforcement action by the fire and rescue authority, criminal prosecution and invalidate the buildings insurance policy.

If an assessment has not been carried out, a buyer’s solicitor will usually request assurance from the freeholder or managing agent that an assessment will be carried out within a reasonable time and request confirmation that the position does not invalidate the buildings insurance cover.

Asbestos 
Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, there is a duty for the “responsible person” for a building to identify the presence of suspected asbestos containing materials within the common parts and once identified, assess what condition it is in, assess the risk and make a plan to manage the risk.

The use of asbestos was prohibited under the Asbestos (Prohibitions) (Amendment) Regulations 1999. Properties built after this date should therefore not have any asbestos risk and therefore, no need for an asbestos survey.

It should be noted that both the regulations referred to above only impose a requirement to assess the common parts of a building and not, the individual flats. The requirement exist even in the case of period conversion flats, where the extent of the common parts may simply consist of a small hallway and a short flight of stairs. Whilst a freeholder may provide assurances during a conveyancing transaction that such assessments and surveys will be carried out, a buyer should be aware that they will be expected to pay a proportion of the cost of compliance with the regulations as part of their service charge obligations in the lease.

For queries relating to leasehold purchases, please contact Varsha Varsani at Meaby&Co vvarsani@meaby.co.uk or call 020 7703 5034.

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