The Fire Safety Act 2021
On 29 April 2021, Parliament passed the Fire Safety Act 2021. The Act has been introduced to amend the application of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 ("RRO") as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017. The provisions of the Act will not come into force until the Secretary of State appoints a date by way of statutory regulations.
The RRO (also referred to as the Fire Safety Order) sets out the fire safety duties of those responsible for non-domestic premises. However, the RRO also applies to the common parts of domestic premises. The route to reach this definition is somewhat convoluted. Article 6(1)(a) states that "[t]his Order does not apply in relation to domestic premises…" which, at first blush, would seem to exclude all parts of domestic premises. However, the definition of "domestic premises" is limited to "premises occupied as a private dwelling (including any garden, yard, garage, outhouse, or other appurtenance of such premises which is not used in common by the occupants of more than one such dwelling)." Thus, any part of the building that falls outside of this definition, falls into the scope of the RRO. This means the parts used in common by the residents of a building, such as a communal hallway, the stairwell, the lift, the lobby etc. The RRO does not expressly define what parts of the premises are those used (or not used) in common which has caused confusion as to how far the Responsible Person's duties extend. As such, the Government have sought to rectify the lacuna by way of the Fire Safety Act 2021.
You can read Samantha Jones' full post on our Civil Law blog here.