What are the rules for communal areas in flats?

A communal area is recognised as any area that is not within the confines of the tenant’s property. For example, corridors, balconies, stairways, landings, lobbies, external gardens, bin stores, garages, and parking areas count as communal areas. The precise rules regarding communal areas in a block of flats will generally be decided by the tenants and the landlord. There may be a board made up of these people where the rules are agreed upon and your tenant agreement should contain detailed coverage of the rules for your estate. The rules for communal areas will typically focus on keeping everyone in the building safe and secure. Below, we outline the most common rules for any type of property where there are shared areas…

  • Residents living in blocks of flats must keep walkways, stairways, hallways, and other shared areas clear of any items for everyone’s safety. Items such as plants, pictures, bikes, prams, shoe racks, coat stands, tables, shoes, toys, recycling bins, white goods electrical equipment, or any items that contain fuel (even if empty) should not be left in any shared areas of the building.

    Landlords are required to conduct risk assessments of escape routes in communal areas and deal with hazards which can make it difficult to get out. If you have a mobility aid or scooter, you will need to discuss storage arrangements for these items with your landlord.
  • The communal areas of flats should be fire safe areas. If there is a fire, the environment will be dark and smoky, meaning you may not be able to get past an object such as a pushchair or plant pot that is left in the hallway. You may even trip over the objects and hinder your escape and could also get in the way of the fire service. It is particularly dangerous to put items that may create further pockets of fires, especially those made from flammable material such as paints.

    Smoking is generally not permitted in communal areas for health and fire safety reasons and any items stored on a balcony should be fire-proof – storing BBQs, fuel containers, or gas bottles will not be acceptable.
  • Do not let people into the building you do not know. If there is a buzzer system in place, and a tradesperson or similar rings your bell and you are not expecting someone, do not let them in. The person they are coming to visit should let them in. Do not allow people you do not know to follow you into the building. If intruders can get through the communal door, it makes it much easier for them to break into a flat.

What are the rules with communal gardens?

Like shared areas within the block of flats, the precise rules regarding communal gardens will be set out in your tenant agreement. You will find that these rules are mostly made around safety and etiquette so that everyone can enjoy the garden. Rules on noise levels, particularly loud music, smoking, and responsibilities surrounding keeping the garden clean and tidy will typically be outlined. Subjects such as planting rights, supervision of children, and whether pets are allowed in the garden will also be covered in your tenancy rules.

Who is responsible for communal areas in flats?

It will normally be the landlord’s responsibility for managing, maintaining, and repairing the communal areas of the property. They may also arrange for other services such as insurance for the building, provision of central heating, lifts, porterage, estate staff, lighting, and cleaning of communal areas.

If you manage a large estate and require a professional block management company to help ease the day to day strain, pressure, and responsibility, call us on 020 3598 9665 and a member of our friendly team will chat through how we may be able to help you.