Directors of resident management companies (RMCs) or right to manage (RTM) companies might be held personally liable for injuries to residents and visitors that occur in common parts of the building.

If there was an accident on the premises, the victim might need to seek compensation. If they broke a leg or dislocated a shoulder and were out of work for an extended period, for instance, they might need to cover their loss of income.

Directors of RMCs have the option to take out directors’ and officers’ liability cover. Legal expenses cover may also be beneficial.

When does liability arise?

Liability can arise out of negligence. Not all accidents can be prevented but there is a duty of care to minimise the risk.

Precautions start with a regular risk assessment and acting upon any findings. So, if the assessment highlights uneven floors or slippery steps, then you must take reasonable action to reduce the risk of accidents.

The building and any work done to it should meet the requirements of the Building Regulations 2012 (2013 Edition).

Preventing accidents in common areas of blocks of flats

If you are responsible for the management of a block of flats, as a freeholder, management company, or managing agent, then you should assess risks to health and safety in the common areas. Even if there are no employees in the building you still also have a responsibility towards other people using the building, from residents and visitors to postmen and delivery drivers.

This is a requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and it can help you to keep those using the building as safe as possible.

Individual flats are private domestic dwellings and are not covered by the regulations, but the common areas are considered to be commercial and to fall under the umbrella of Health and Safety at Work law.

The duty to ensure the risk assessment of the common parts is made and acted upon falls on the landlord or person responsible for management, which could be a freeholder, an agent, or a director of an RMC or RTM company.

Be sure to record all your risk assessments. A clear, up-to-date record of the risk assessment, its outcomes, and your response to its recommendations could help protect you from being sued or prosecuted for negligence should an accident occur.

Keeping the common areas safe

Inspections of the building or reports from the RMC can help with maintaining the safety of the common areas. You may want to remind reminding leaseholders to avoid obstructing hallways and landings. A system for reporting problems can also help leaseholders to keep you informed. This may be direct to you or via the RMC.

Blocks of Flats Insurance from Gallagher

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The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.