Fire safety for shared owners or leaseholders

If you’re a shared owner or leaseholder, you’re responsible for gas, oil and solid fuel appliance and electrical tests to your home, as well as maintaining and testing smoke alarms.  

If you live in a building with shared areas, Sovereign is responsible for managing fire safety in these areas and for any communal gas or electrical installations. 

This means you’re responsible for making sure that a 'Gas Safe' registered engineer services the heating system every year and, if you want to fit any gas appliances, you’ll also need to employ a 'Gas Safe' registered engineer to do the work. You must also make sure that a qualified electrical engineer carries out any electrical work to your home. Our leaseholder responsibilities page tells you more. 

Get fire smart 

There’s a lot that you can also do to Get Fire Smart and protect your family and your home from the danger of fire. 

(If you're a tenant, please visit our fire safety for tenants page for information that's tailored to your responsibilities.)
  

1. Do your monthly checks 

  • Test your smoke alarm and any carbon monoxide detector at least monthly by pressing the button. If the alarm doesn’t sound, replace the battery - or contact us immediately if you have a mains-powered smoke alarm fitted, so we can arrange to fix it. This is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. 
  • Replace the batteries each year or when the alarm sounds to show that the batteries are running low. 
  • You could consider fitting additional battery-powered alarms yourself – these are best located in the centre of the ceiling, at least a foot away from any fittings (like lights).  

2. Make an escape plan  

  • Smoke makes it almost impossible to see when you're trying to escape - so plan how you’d escape if a fire did break out, and then practice it with your family. 
  • The best exit is usually the nearest exit but have a back-up plan in case it's blocked. You could include any ground floor windows in your plan. 
  • Make sure everyone knows the escape plan. 
  • Keep keys near doors and windows so it’s quicker to get out. (For security reasons, don’t keep them within reach from outside.) 
  • If there’s smoke, keep as low as possible as the air’s clearer there. 
  • Check doors before you open them – if they’re hot, there’s fire the other side so use your plan B exit. 
  • If you’re the last one out, close the door behind you to slow the progress of the fire. 

3. Keep corridors and exits clear to help you escape 

  • Keep corridors and exits clear. As well as fuelling a fire, obstructions block your escape route and prevent the fire service getting in to put out the fire.  
  • If you live somewhere with communal corridors or other areas, it's essential you don't leave items like bikes, buggies or mobility scooters in them.  
  • If we become aware of items left in communal areas of Sovereign blocks, we'll remove them within one working day. 

 4. Avoid the common causes of fires in the home 

  • Take care in the kitchen – don't leave cooking unattended and keep electrical appliances and leads away from water.  
  • Faulty appliances are a common cause of house fires  - so check your electrical appliances to make sure there’s no evidence of faults, loose or exposed wires.  Cheap or faulty phone chargers have also caused several fires in Sovereign homes.
  • Don't overload sockets or daisy chain sockets together (where you plug multiple extensions into each other) – this is extremely dangerous. 
  • Avoid running appliances like washing machines, tumble dryers or dishwashers running overnight or when you’re out (as you won’t be around to spot any problems). Clean lint from tumble dryers. 
  • You can register your domestic appliances to be the first to find out if any safety issues or recalls affect you. It's easy to do and free. 
  • Don’t burn candles in your home and keep soft furnishings away from anything that generates heat, including light bulbs. 
  • If you smoke, make sure you stub any cigarettes completely out. 

5. Fire safety in flats and shared buildings 

  • Don’t prop open fire doors – they’re there to stop the spread of a fire. Let us know if you notice any damage or faults to fire doors or self-closer door fixings, so that we can fix them. 
  • Keep all exits and communal corridors clear. If you notice others are blocking corridors and you’d like us to speak to them, please let us know. 
  • Keep mobility scooters out of corridors or near exits. 
  • Never use a BBQ on a balcony as this could start a fire. If you smoke, always make sure you stub out cigarettes properly and dispose of them carefully. 
  • Know the fire safety arrangements for your block – what’s the evacuation policy? Read the fire action notice for your building and, if you’re not sure, please contact us. 
  • Never use a lift to escape – you could become trapped. 
  • If you have elderly or vulnerable neighbours, consider how you could safely help them in an emergency. 

We review fire safety in all of our taller buildings each year to make sure our advice is correct and to identify any improvements we can carry out to make our homes even safer.   

Our safety in communal areas page also explains why you must not use corridors and escape routes to store any possessions, to dump unwanted goods or for decorative items outside your front door. This includes bicycles or pushchairs. 

We also work with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service about fire safety in our homes. Check out their website for what to do if a fire occurred in your flat or block. 

This film of an evacuation drill with the fire service at one of our housing for older people schemes gives some more top tips:

 

More information 

For more information, the government's Fire Kills website has lots of tips. You can also contact your local fire service for advice (some can arrange a free home fire safety check) by visiting www.fireservice.co.uk
  
If you’d like some more advice on any aspect of safety, please contact us