Communal Area Safety - Clear and Safe Policy
Following discussions with Islington Council and advice from the London Fire Brigade, Partners has introduced a “clear and safe” approach to items left in internal communal areas.
This approach should ensure that the common parts are free of combustible material, ignition sources and obstructions. This will reduce the risk of a fire starting and also reduce the risk to residents and the emergency services in the event of a fire.
If you currently store or leave items in the internal communal areas of your property, you will no longer be able to do so, even if you have been given permission in the past. We can no longer allow any items in internal communal areas. They must be kept completely free from all obstacles at all times.
So if you do have personal items in the communal areas e.g. pushchairs, bikes, ornaments, please remove them into your flat
Frequently Asked Questions
Why have you sent me a letter about my internal communal area?
We have written to all residents who share an internal communal area with their neighbours to tell them that our policy has changed. You are no longer able to store things in communal areas. This is because the London Fire Brigade has advised Islington Council and Partners that keeping these areas clear is the best way to minimise the risk from fire. This recommendation is being implemented across Islington. The only exception is an appropriate doormat inside the front door.
Why are you making this change?
The London Fire Brigade has advised Islington Council that this policy should be implemented, and Islington Council has requested that Partners do so. We want to protect residents by ensuring that exit routes are completely clear in the event of a fire.
I’m a leaseholder, does this apply to me?
This policy relates to all residents, both tenants and leaseholders.
You previously gave me permission to keep my pushchair in the hallway. Can I continue to do this?
Even if you’ve previously had permission to use the internal communal area for storage this change applies to you. Nothing can now be stored in these areas.
I haven’t had a letter from you but have seen information about communal areas on your website. I have my own front door. Can I keep things in my hallway?
This policy applies to all internal communal areas. It does not apply to areas which are for your exclusive use, but we advise all residents to keep exit routes clear so that you can leave quickly if there’s a fire.
In our block we’ve put up some nice pictures and a table to store our post. Can we keep these as they’re not blocking the exit route?
We appreciate that some residents want to personalise communal areas and we’re sorry that this change may cause inconvenience, but the policy applies to everything in the internal communal areas. You are no longer able to keep pictures, tables, cupboards, shoe racks etc. in the hallway. Only a suitable mat in the main entrance is allowed.
How will you know if our internal communal area is kept clear?
As part of our Health and Safety responsibilities, we have always carried out ‘communal area risk assessments’ where we check that your shared areas are safe. These will continue and our assessor will take action if he finds items in the hallways. Other residents may also report items in the hallways to us.
What will you do if you find things being stored in the internal communal areas?
If items in the communal areas present an immediate danger we may remove them without notice. Otherwise we will follow the process set out below.
Firstly we’ll try to establish who the items belong to. We’ll take photographs and an inventory of what’s there and put a notice on the inside of your communal front door telling all residents that the items need to be removed.
We’ll also write to all the residents at the address informing them that they have 14 days to remove the items.
After the 14 days we’ll visit again to see whether the areas are clear. If items remain we may put a sticker on them advising residents that we plan to remove them. We’ll also hand deliver letters to each flat again informing them of this.
We’ll then arrange for our Repairs Team or a contractor to visit and remove the items. Items will not be stored. They will be disposed of. We will not return your possessions.
We ask for your co-operation and consideration for your neighbours in complying with the policy immediately. Please do not wait until an inspection or notice before you clear the communal areas of all your possessions.
Are door mats allowed in the communal area?
A door mat just inside the communal front door is acceptable in terms of our policy. Door mats outside individual flat doors, either at the bottom of the first flight of stairs or on the landings are not permitted/allowed. If there is a mat in the communal area on the day of our inspection, it will be listed for removal. We would recommend placing a suitable mat, or floor (carpet) protector on the inside of your own home’s door.
If you remove my possessions can I get them back?
We will have written to you giving 14 days’ notice that the areas should be clear. After the 14 days we will have written to you again and told you that we intend to clear the area and that we won’t return items to you.
We think that this gives you enough time to move your possessions. We will not return them once we’ve removed them. Please remember that this change is to help keep you and your neighbours safe.
What if I’m on holiday/away/in hospital and I don’t receive your letter?
If you adhere to the new policy then you shouldn’t have anything stored in the internal communal areas at any time. We have written to all tenants and leaseholders to inform them about the policy. If you allow anyone to stay in the property for a short period while you are away then you should ensure they are aware of the policy.
If you are a tenant, please remember that your tenancy conditions require you to notify Partners if you’re going to be away from home for over 1 month.
What if no one’s in when you come to clear the internal communal area?
If we can’t get access to the communal area, we’ll check whether we hold a key for your communal front door. If we do, we’ll use it to access the address. If we don’t we’ll try to gain access once more and if this attempt is also unsuccessful our Housing Services and Repairs Teams will carry out a forced entry to clear the hallway.
I have a storage cupboard in our communal area. Can I continue to use it?
Storage cupboards can only be used if there is no gas or electrical equipment (meters, fuse, supply head etc.) in the cupboard and if it is genuinely a storage cupboard with a fire door (Solid door, at least 44mm thick) and has a latch or lock.
I don’t agree with this new policy. What can I do about it?
We’re very sorry that some residents may find this change difficult and won’t want to remove things from communal areas.
We are making this change because of advice from the London Fire Brigade and at the request of Islington Council. We want to protect residents and ensure the best possible outcome in the event of a fire. We therefore will not be making any exceptions or changing this policy.