Incorrect Block Manager advice leaves landlords at risk of void insurance policies and legal prosecution

Landlords - It’s worth checking whether the Block Manager appointed by the freeholder is testing the fire alarms in your leasehold flat/apartment.

An important term of any landlord’s insurance policy is highly likely to read something along the lines of: “ensure the property’s fire alarms are in repair and proper working order”.

If it doesn’t, then Wales’ Fitness For Human Habitation Regulations certainly do. In fact, they go as far as to say if fire alarms aren't in repair and proper working order, then the property is unfit for human habitation. Any landlord would have a hard job attempting to collect on a property that is labelled as such, we would suggest.

Whether it’s a void insurance policy or the inability to charge rent, the stakes are high. As such, it’s vital that a landlord is confident that the fire alarms in their property are regularly serviced and inspected.

Three alarms in one apartment out-of-date because of incorrect advice

Landlords of a large number of leasehold apartments in a Cardiff Bay block were recently incorrectly advised by their Block Manager. They were told that the fire alarm contractor the Block Manager appoints to look after the communal fire alarm system would also inspect and service the fire alarms inside each apartment.

When it was discovered that three alarms in one apartment were out-of-date, the Block Manager realised their error and issued an amendment to their previous advice:

“The apartments have alarms which form part of the communal system and alarms which are demised to the property. Our contractor only services the alarms that form part of the communal system. Alarms demised to the property are the responsibility of the landlord”.

Who is checking the fire alarms in your property?

The type of alarm system described above is not uncommon, especially in large blocks. Some alarms belong to the building’s communal system, whereas others belong to the apartment’s own system.

We’re not aware of any Block Manager that takes care of the alarms belonging solely to the property. Their view is that these are the responsibility of the leaseholder. So the Block Manager isn’t checking every alarm in your apartment, who is?

All alarms have an expiry date printed on them, but they usually need unscrewing to reveal it.

If a property is sat with expired alarms and a fire was to break out, the repercussions are unimaginable. If the worst was to happen, a lawsuit would inevitably allow, and we can foresee insurers claiming “as per the policy, the system wasn’t in repair and proper working order, so we’re not paying out”. That’s an expensive day out for the sake of inspecting and servicing the alarms once per year.

Landlords can enjoy peace of mind with CPS Homes

We handle all fire alarm testing for our managed clients, ensuring their properties are safe and compliant. Our contractors conduct Fire Alarm System Inspections and Servicing Reports annually (or more frequently for systems that require it). As Cardiff's largest manager of homes in the private rented sector, our buying power with trusted, local contractors means we're able to secure the best possible prices too.

Ready to learn more? To discuss CPS Homes taking over management of your property, contact our team on 02920 668585. You can also learn more about our property management services and our free agent switch service.

12 April 2024

The information contained within this article was correct at the date of publishing and is not guaranteed to remain correct in the present day.


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