Author Topic: Fire rated door and leasehold property  (Read 1005 times)

Tim Hall

  • I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes
Fire rated door and leasehold property
« on: August 11, 2019, 09:41:06 pm »
I live in a leasehold flat. If started life as a council flat and got sold off. I'm the third owner. A housing association, successor to the local authority, retain the freehold. It's a purpose built flat,  one of six in the block, three per floor with common hallway and stairs.

I had a letter last week saying the landlord has carried out a Fire Risk Assessment and thinks my door can't resist a fire for 30 minutes. They also think it has no intumescent strips nor an automatic closer. They are correct about the last two items, but I'm not sure how they arrive at that conclusion as I wasn't in when they did the assessment.

I suspect the door is the original fitment, so solid wood but predating BS476-22 (1987).

What is the legal position here? Can the freeholder force me to fit a certified door? Can I get them to pay, as they, or their predecessor,  built it in the first place?

FWIW, my tame chippy says it should resist a 30 minute fire, certainly better than my neighbours who have had composite doors fitted.
There are two ways you can get exercise out of a bicycle: you can
"overhaul" it, or you can ride it.  (Jerome K Jerome)

Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2019, 11:25:00 pm »
I suspect the door is the original fitment, so solid wood but predating BS476-22 (1987).
FWIW, my tame chippy says it should resist a 30 minute fire, certainly better than my neighbours who have had composite doors fitted.

Unfortunately even if it should resist for many hours it has no certification there no assurance of its fire resistance.

With regards to whether they can require you to fit a compliant door l suspect that at the end of the day they can and will be able to charge you for it via the charges you pay for the upkeep of the common areas, building fabric maintenance etc.  Probably cheapest to bite the bullet and have your tame chippie fir a certified replacement doorset to your taste (not necessarily the same as the leaseholders!)

Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2019, 11:46:18 am »
It’s worth reading your lease in detail to see who’s responsible for what.

I’m sure leases vary, but the general model is that when you buy a lease you take on a share of responsibility of the building, and the total share of all leaseholders adds up to 100%, and the freeholder is not responsible for paying for anything.

It’s better to think of the freeholder as a boring admin role where they work out what work needs doing and invoice the leaseholders. Calling them a “landlord” misunderstands yours and their relationship.

rr

Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2019, 12:48:53 pm »
Exactly this issue came up in the Grenfell enquiry, I suspect that the law, or its enforcement, will be changed to ensure that all front doors are up to standard. The only issue be will who pays.


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ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2019, 01:40:17 pm »
I think the freeholder would be responsible for the blocks adherence to the relevant fire standards – for the entire block I'd assume they'd either use money in a sinking fund (if there is one) or distribute the cost by billing all the leaseholders.

If it's just a few flats (or one), it's probably more expedient to ask that leaseholder to pay directly. It depends on who is legally responsible and the finer print of the lease. This comes up a lot of course, for instance when the top floor flat needs roof work and the bottom floor flat demur, which is why the freeholder has some powers of legal compulsion when it comes to distributing costs to all leaseholders.
!nataS pihsroW

Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2019, 08:19:14 pm »
In my building anything spent by the freeholders is passed on to the leaseholders, split by fixed proportions. Trying to split costs based on which flat benefits would be an endless quagmire.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2019, 09:17:19 am »
Indeed. Ideally, the landlord/freeholder should be raising an annual charge to all leaseholders and this should feed a maintenance fund from which repairs and improvements are paid. This seems less often the case these days, as people try and pay the least amount possible. Having the money in the bank makes life a lot easier, even with legal compulsion to pay for work, some people are hard work and solicitors cost money.
!nataS pihsroW

Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2019, 09:19:01 am »
I seem to remember that there is/was a problem with using sinking funds for capital expenditure by Housing associations/LAs  where the original building was constructed using public funds/subsidy sometimes in the form of a long term loan.  I can't remember the detail. Annual service charges are therefore often levied for day to day maintenance, annual servicing and grounds maintenance only, with section 20 notices being issued for major works. 
Get a bicycle. You will never regret it, if you live- Mark Twain

Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2019, 07:03:35 pm »
FWIW, my tame chippy says it should resist a 30 minute fire, certainly better than my neighbours who have had composite doors fitted.

It's not just the structure of the door that is important, but also what's around the edges. Flames and more importantly smoke will creep around the edges &under the door, and it's the smoke that'll kill you long before the flames get you.

Intumescent strips are designed to stop both but there are just flame only types. They usually have a rubber type blade to stop the smoke and eventually expand into foam type seal when subject to enough heat. The general idea is that they'll seal a fire door and therefore the room long enough for the fire brigade to get you out rather than stop a fire getting through completely. Even a steel door will eventually fail given enough heat. The intumescent seal won’t stop you opening the door in an emergency, but is enough to stop the smoke & flames for however long they're rated for. That's also why they're recommending a door closer, it makes sure the door closes and stays closed. I know that sounds a stupid thing to say, but if the door isn't closed properly it doesn't matter how much you spend or how many hours the door is rated for, it ain't going to do any anything to stop the spread of the fire if it's not closed properly.

Lastly, and this was the bane of my life when I used to do building inspections, what are fire extinguishers for, holding open fire doors of course!

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2019, 07:08:47 pm »
I've heard rumours of lots of 'fire rated' doors in this country actually being counterfeit junk. Supposedly a certified brick shithouse fire door which can resist a fire for an hour costs a lot of money (as in, over a thousand), so for a crook there is a nice margin to be had in quoting for the real deal and fitting a dud.

The worst instance I know to be true involved a children's hospital. A fake door was found, and the contractor had to remove and fit 50 new doors.
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Tim Hall

  • I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes
Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2019, 09:44:03 pm »
FWIW, my tame chippy says it should resist a 30 minute fire, certainly better than my neighbours who have had composite doors fitted.

It's not just the structure of the door that is important, but also what's around the edges. Flames and more importantly smoke will creep around the edges &under the door, and it's the smoke that'll kill you long before the flames get you.

Intumescent strips are designed to stop both but there are just flame only types. They usually have a rubber type blade to stop the smoke and eventually expand into foam type seal when subject to enough heat. The general idea is that they'll seal a fire door and therefore the room long enough for the fire brigade to get you out rather than stop a fire getting through completely. Even a steel door will eventually fail given enough heat. The intumescent seal won’t stop you opening the door in an emergency, but is enough to stop the smoke & flames for however long they're rated for. That's also why they're recommending a door closer, it makes sure the door closes and stays closed. I know that sounds a stupid thing to say, but if the door isn't closed properly it doesn't matter how much you spend or how many hours the door is rated for, it ain't going to do any anything to stop the spread of the fire.

Lastly, and this was the bane of my life when I used to do building inspections, what are fire extinguishers for, holding open fire doors of course!

The Helpful Leaflet that was included with the letter says I should have intumescent strips, cold smoke seals, at least three hinges and a door closer.

Given that there's a whole lot more combustible stuff in the flat (furnishings, curtains, laminate flooring) compared to the shared hall way (bare brick walls, concrete floor, come kind of boarded ceiling) it feels like the door is more to contain the fire in the flat than stop one getting in. 

Anyway, if push comes to shove I'll be out of the window (having carefully lowered the Pretty Bike to safety first).
There are two ways you can get exercise out of a bicycle: you can
"overhaul" it, or you can ride it.  (Jerome K Jerome)

Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2019, 09:56:58 pm »
They can't currently make you change the door, only nag you.  The law may change following Grenfell.  One issue is that the door the council recommends for SO's flat (on which some idiot fitted a uPVC door) is £1400.  Council tenants get it for nothing but leaseholders of ex-council flats don't.  Oh, and you also have to pay for a building inspector to sign it off afterwards, which is an extra £150.  So, as you'd expect, no-one does anything.
Never tell me the odds.

Tim Hall

  • I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes
Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2019, 10:03:00 pm »
They can't currently make you change the door, only nag you.  The law may change following Grenfell.  One issue is that the door the council recommends for SO's flat (on which some idiot fitted a uPVC door) is £1400.  Council tenants get it for nothing but leaseholders of ex-council flats don't.  Oh, and you also have to pay for a building inspector to sign it off afterwards, which is an extra £150.  So, as you'd expect, no-one does anything.
That's interesting, ta.

When I phoned the freeholder up and asked to speak to the person who had signed the letter, the voice on the other end said "Is it about doors?".  He had, that morning, received an email from the person that signed the letter, saying that perhaps it shouldn't have gone out in the first place.
There are two ways you can get exercise out of a bicycle: you can
"overhaul" it, or you can ride it.  (Jerome K Jerome)

Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2019, 10:51:27 pm »
.
................ it feels like the door is more to contain the fire in the flat than stop one getting in. 

Yep, that's pretty much the gist of it, the idea is to restrict the spread of fire by sub-dividing buildings into a number of discrete compartments. Yours and the other flats are compartments, the communal hallway is the risk or potential spread area and your fire door is the only barrair to that area, be it inwards or outwards. As I said, the ideas is that the fire brigade will get you out of your compartment before the smoke gets you, or as you say you'll be out the window before it's too late. But I'll add to my previous comments.

If you do go out of the window, or, and this is worse, some hero tries to break down the front door and attempt a recuse just watch out for one thing, that sudden rush of fresh air into the building. The fire, it may have looked okay the fella said and I reckoned I could get through that he said, but starved of Oxygen........, now someone opens the front door. Big inrush of fresh air and oomph and all that. Trust me, people have been killed because of that.

BTW Three hinges, cold smokes seals and all that, it ought to be standard spec on a fire door and if they hang the door with two of the hinges near the top and one at the bottom, rather than spread out equally don't worry about it, that's the correct way of doing it. Oh, and make sure they are proper steel hinges, not brass or God forbid Aluminium.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2019, 11:41:03 pm »
and if they hang the door with two of the hinges near the top and one at the bottom, rather than spread out equally don't worry about it, that's the correct way of doing it.

What's the reasoning behind that?  It's something I've noticed and wondered about, usually in boring waiting rooms.  My best guess is that it better distributes the stress of a door closer (or one of those door-hold-open electromagnet things).
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2019, 08:35:19 pm »
and if they hang the door with two of the hinges near the top and one at the bottom, rather than spread out equally don't worry about it, that's the correct way of doing it.

What's the reasoning behind that?  It's something I've noticed and wondered about, usually in boring waiting rooms.  My best guess is that it better distributes the stress of a door closer (or one of those door-hold-open electromagnet things).

No, but that is a valid point and the internals of commercial doors have hidden strenthening to cope with that, in reality it's more to do with the top of the door having more leverage on it. Doors tend to fall out from the top and push in at the bottom, therefore having two hinges high up both spreads the load on hinges & fixing screws and prevents the door from dropping. We've all come across a door dragging its leading edge on the floor, that usually because the top hinge or in the case of aluminium doors, top pivot is worn and causing the door to drop.

What a sad life I've led.

Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2019, 11:28:28 am »

What a sad life I've led.

Not really, it's simple mechanics.
We are making a New World (Paul Nash, 1918)

Gattopardo

  • Lord of the sith
  • Overseaing the building of the death star
Re: Fire rated door and leasehold property
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2019, 08:25:48 pm »
They can't currently make you change the door, only nag you.  The law may change following Grenfell.  One issue is that the door the council recommends for SO's flat (on which some idiot fitted a uPVC door) is £1400.  Council tenants get it for nothing but leaseholders of ex-council flats don't.  Oh, and you also have to pay for a building inspector to sign it off afterwards, which is an extra £150.  So, as you'd expect, no-one does anything.

Depends, currently having a door changed for free, think the door were replaced a few years ago and they are not up to spec so it is free.