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Are your communal areas safe, clear and clutter free?

18 September 2023

It is our responsibility to make sure all communal areas in your building (if you have them) meet fire and safety requirements. Items being kept in communal areas are a hazard which can prevent people from leaving the building safely in the event of a fire. To make sure these areas are kept safe, we have a zero tolerance policy on items in communal areas. This means that we will remove and dispose of any items found in the communal areas when we visit the buildings we manage, without notice. This applies to all items, even if they are being stored temporarily or you feel they are not posing a risk to you and others. We take this approach to make sure that in the unlikely event of a fire, people are not prevented from exiting the building if they need to, and a fire is not spread because of items being left in hallways and entrances, for example. We want to keep you and your neighbours safe so we’re sharing more details about the scale of this issue to raise awareness of why it’s so important to keep communal areas clear for everyone’s safety.

How often are items removed?

Our Fire Safety, Building Safety, Estate Services and Neighbourhood teams play a key role in reporting fire safety issues when visiting the buildings we manage, as they carry out inspections of our buildings on a regular basis. Our Estate Services contractors share this responsibility too, and they are expected to make sure communal areas are kept clear by removing and disposing of items on their visits. Recently, we have seen a significant increase in items found within communal areas when we inspect our buildings.

  • Our fire risk assessments (FRAs) are completed by Savills and in 2022, 295 fire risk actions identified in FRAs were completed by our Estate Services team. By the end of July this year, we had already completed 309 actions.
  • During July 2023, on 71% of the inspections completed by the Estates and Neighbourhood teams, there were items found stored in communal areas which required removing.
  • This decreased from the period between April and June 2023, where 75% of inspections found items in communal areas which required removing.
  • Our London Estate Services contractor removed 1,490 tonnes of bulk waste items and fire risk items from our London estates alone in the 2021/22 financial year.

What we will do as the landlord to tackle this issue

If we find any items in communal areas, we will remove them and throw them away which means you will no longer have access to them. These items will not be retrievable as we do not have the space available to store items once removed. Your building has a TORT notice displayed in communal area/s (which you can see below), which is a legal notice informing you that we have the right to remove items found without any prior notice. This notice has a list of commonly stored in these areas which should not be stored there, though the list is not exhaustive. When visiting our buildings, we will check that these TORT notices are still in play as part of our inspections.

We have started to inspect blocks more frequently and to minimise the amount of items found in communal areas and ensure they are kept clean and safe, but we need help from you too.

What you can do as a resident

If you live in a flat where there are communal areas which you may need to use to leave the building in the event of an emergency, your tenancy agreement or lease will state that you are not permitted to store items in communal areas and that we will treat any items left as a breach of your tenancy or lease. If you currently have items, including but not limited to prams, bicycles, plants, furniture, shoes or other household items stored or left in these spaces, please move them immediately. The best way to look after your belongings is to keep them inside your home.

We also encourage you to remind your neighbours of this policy and encourage them to keep the areas safe too.

Let’s work together to keep you, your family and neighbours safe.

For more information about ways to keep you and your home safe please click here. Alternatively, please contact us to speak to our Fire and Building Safety team.

An example TORT notice

More on keeping communal areas clear

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