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Good afternoon people,
I have been asked to manage a flat within a concrete block. The bathroom has a polystyrene ceiling with a light installed in it.
Does anybody have a source as to whether this consitutes a fire risk, and (if as I think) it does, would cladding it remove the risk or does it need to be removed completely and a new plasterboard ceiling installed?
I have asked the local fire service but have not heard back from them and want to proceed with the required works.
Please provide a source for your answer, as opinions without a legal basis won't be helpful.
Thanks in advance for your advice.
Disclaimer: I have no legal expertise nor am I a qualified advisor on any subject. A humble landlord using an open forum to exchange ideas and experiences.
Thank you. I need a legal basis for my advice, as I do not want the client to spend money if she does not have to, so want to be absolutely clear as to her position.
That's very helpful, thank you.
watch a fire safety video of how fast and furious these tiles catch fire and it might change your stance on whether legality is more important than morality. I would never let out a flat with these tiles in place and have removed them in the past.
There is no law that explicitly forbids polystyrene tiles.
However you should always carry out a risk assessment on rental properties and during that process you would identify those tiles as a potential risk in the event of a fire as they will become toxic if exposed to a naked flame.
By this process once identified as a risk you would have to explain what measures if any you have undertaken to mitigate that risk. It would be my feeling that once I identified the risk of these tiles and depending on where they were in the property and the chance of them being exposed, I would likely conclude that they would have to be removed or boarded over.
Things like this are generally dealt with as hyndsight items, meaning you could leave them and be fine but if anyone is injured as a result you would be liable as you knew they presented a risk prior to the event.
Landlord with 25 years’ experience in the property market and a specialist in tenant referencing, ID and credit screening. Creator of identity, credit and anti-money laundering system ValidID.co.uk
Whenever I've looked into this before (professionally) I have found no basis for polystyrene tiles being illegal. On this basis you may never prove the negative.
However, there is a second point, which you have touched on, and this is risk. As a comparison, it's not illegal to buy or use a ladder, but H and S gurus say nothing more than 15 minutes at a time. You have identified a risk and the sensible course of action is removal of the tiles. There is no question in my mind about the dangers they pose. In the event of an incident, the landlord and letting agent will be challenged on their risk assessments (don't forget these are more onerous than for private householders).
1 - has the risk been identified? In this case yes
2 - what has been done to mitigate the risk?
Cost is not normally an acceptable defence in a health and safety claim.
Plain polystyrent tiles were a significant fire hazard. So for many years they have been treated with a fire retardant. However if they are not installed correctly or they wrong type of pain is used on them they will still be a fire risk.
This question was asked of government back in 2017 here:
Broadening the topic there is a study here of the fire impact of wall linings (I'm thinking woodchip and blown vinyl would be the worst offenders):
I've always thought the trend to add pine cladding to a room was like fixing kindling to a wall, yet it still exists.
If anyone has ever put a hollow core door on a bonfire you will realise its fire resistance is close to zero, even a cheap solid pine door takes a while to burn.
A good teacher must know the rules; a good pupil, the exceptions.
Martin H. Fischer