Fire safety for homeowners
Your responsibilities as a council homeowner
As a council homeowner you have additional fire safety responsibilities. This is especially so if you sublet, as Ealing Council does not inspect the inside of your home or make any necessary safety adaptations. This means you must ensure any fire risks are removed, for example:
- do not store anything on balconies that could easily catch fire
- do not overload electrical sockets
- install smoke detectors and test them regularly
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System covers the safety of your leased home. To find out more about this, and your responsibilities if you are a landlord, go to the Communities and Local Government website.
The main thing to check as a homeowner is that your front door is fire resistant. Fire doors are built to restrict and delay the path of a fire and will save lives. The communal doors in your block are fire doors. Ealing Council is responsible for these self-closing glazed doors in the corridors and staircases. However, the terms of your lease state the front door to your individual property is your responsibility.
Many new homeowners install a new front door. Ealing Council strongly advises you to have a fire assessment carried out on your front door to ensure it complies with current regulations for fire doors.
Some, but not all, wooden doors are fire resistant, but in nearly all cases new UPVC or plastic doors are not sufficiently fire resistant. If the assessment shows your front door is not a fire door we strongly advise you replace it with a new timber door made to British Standard 476: Part 22: 1987 or British Standard EN 1634-1: 2000.
Ealing Council may be able to assess your front door for a small fee; however, this will depend on the number of requests received. If you need a replacement door we may be able to supply and fit this for you at cost as part of our Fire Safety scheme. If you would like to have your front door checked phone 0800 181744 or (020) 8825 5682. If you would like the check carried out independently we can give you the contact details of appropriate organisations.
Metal security grilles
Some homeowners have installed metal security grilles across their front doors. If a fire starts in your block security grilles will prevent you from leaving the property, and the block, as quickly as you should. This danger would be even greater if the fire were to occur in your own property.
Advice from the London Fire Brigade is to remove any door grille and replace it with another form of security.
Some homeowners have fixed security grilles to a part of the building that remains part of the council's responsibility, not part of their own property. Attaching grilles to council property is not permitted and any found will be removed. If we remove a grille and you fit a replacement in the same place, you will be charged for the cost of the second, plus any subsequent, removals.
If you sublet your property
If you sublet your property you have additional responsibilities and legal obligations to your tenants.
You should consider the risks to your tenants in the event of a fire and take all necessary precautions to minimise those risks. This includes you, as the landlord, installing smoke detectors. It is also your responsibility to test them – you cannot pass this responsibility on to your tenants.
It is important that home ownership services have your contact details in the event of an emergency at your property. If you have already provided these details please make sure they are up to date.
If you sublet your property please ensure your tenants are aware of the following advice:
- keep communal areas clear
- do not wedge open fire doors in the corridors
- never leave bin bags, bicycles, children's buggies, plant pots, washing or other obstructions in communal corridors or walkways
- keep all exits from the home clear so people can get out easily if there is a fire
- do not store anything on a balcony or patio or in a garden that could easily catch fire and cause a fire to spread
- do not overload electrical sockets and take care when cooking
- stub out cigarettes fully and do not smoke in bed
- install a smoke detector and test it regularly
We are doing all we can to minimise fire risks. Please do your bit and follow this advice.