What Are Common Areas?
The management of the common areas of blocks of flat is usually carried out by the managing agent but it is the freeholders who actually own them. These common areas cover the structure, the roof, the land the building stands on, foundations, load bearing walls, gardens, landings, paths, gates, fences, drives, stairways, and any other outbuildings. Inside it covers things such as plant rooms, lift motor rooms, and meter cupboards and any other areas not owned by individual leaseholders.
As the common parts of residential developments are deemed to be a ‘place of work’ by the Health and Safety Executive and the Courts, they are subject to health and safety at work legislation with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requiring employers to assess and manage health and safety risks.
Risk management involves identifying and controlling, by sensible health and safety measures, any potentially significant risk of accident or ill health to you, staff under your supervision, contractors, leaseholders, members of the public and visitors.
There are always going to be building issues which won’t necessarily be confined to a building aging, as new-builds can also experience defects. Issues such as damp, of which there are two types, penetrating damp (which can be found at any level) and rising damp which is often found on the ground floor of blocks of flats but rarely seen in flats above the ground. Defective/degraded brickwork, flashings, downpipes, gutters and damp proof courses can all cause problems if not repaired, maintained or replaced and can impact of flat interiors, whether owner-occupied or rented.
So, the following broad guidelines on how to manage the building and when, have been sourced from the Federation of Private Residents’ Associations (FPRA). Not all will apply, (depending on the type of the building) and it is the terms of the lease that should be the definitive guide.
Asbestos Review Report
Buildings Insurance (a condition of purchasing a flat)
Water Risk Assessment
Every 6 Months
Jet Wash Paths
Every 3 Years
Health & Safety – Major Review
Buildings Insurance – Alternative Quotations
Every 5 Years
Communal Electrics – Full Inspection
Every 7 Years
Plant and Equipment
Thorough examination of passenger lifts (and perhaps boilers) are regulatory requirements but (depending on the property) may extend to include equipment such as all lifts – passenger, goods and disabled – steam boilers, pressure vessels, refuse hoists, gantry access equipment and window cleaning equipment.
Note: There is a difference between the obligations of just repair and repair/keep in working order with the latter being a higher obligation requiring those areas to be capable of functioning for the purpose of which they are intended.