RICS Guidance Note Health & Safety for Residential Property Managers

Earlier this year, News on the Block, Jen Lemen BSc Hons (FRICS) of Property Elite and Annie McGrandles, FIRPM MRICS, Head of Portfolio and Block Management of Property Management Recruitment, held a webinar for over 150 block managers on how to become RICS qualified.

As a follow up to this webinar, we will be running a series of articles on how you can become qualified either as AssocRICS or MRICS. 

In this article, running with the overall edition theme of health & safety, we will be taking a look at what you need to know as an AssocRICS or APC candidate about the RICS Guidance Note Health & Safety for Residential Property Managers (1st Edition, July 2016).


Health & Safety is a mandatory competency in both the AssocRICS and APC assessments. In the APC, it is a Level 2 competency which means that as well as knowledge (Level 1) of health & safety, candidates must also be able to provide practical examples of managing health & safety (Level 2). 

This document provides guidance on best practice for property managers in relation to health & safety. 

Key areas of H&S compliance covered include:

  • Duty of care for health & safety
  • Risk assessment
  • Management and reporting of accidents
  • Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
  • Contractor management
  • Asbestos management
  • Access to sites
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
  • Control of substances hazardous to health
  • Electrical and gas safety
  • Emergency preparation and property resilience
  • Fire safety
  • First aid
  • Food safety
  • Housekeeping
  • Lights and lifting equipment
  • Lighting
  • Lone working
  • R22 and air conditioning
  • Radiation
  • Security and CCTV
  • Signage
  • Smoking
  • Vulnerable users
  • Waste management
  • Water hygiene
  • Work at height

The list is extensive and an article could be written specific on each of the above. However, this does give an indication of the scope of knowledge required by a residential property manager.

The RICS guidance specifically discusses estate and block management (including retirement housing) in Section 10.  A managing agent’s obligations for a residential block will depend on the type, age and size of block, the tenancy agreements in place and the individual nature of each tenant or leaseholder. 

Typically, this will either be:

  • Long leasehold apartments where a service charge is paid by the leaseholders in relation to the management and repair of the common areas of the block. The freeholder (who may pass this liability to their managing agent) is then responsible for the common areas using the service charge funds. The individual leases will define what the service charge covers in terms of common areas, services and apportionment. The freeholder or managing agent is generally responsible for health & safety in the common areas, but not the internal parts of the apartments or flats (as they are in the control of the leaseholder). 
  • In a multi-let block, the freeholder could alternatively let the apartments or flats directly on assured shorthold tenancies. The maintenance liability then remains with the freeholder rather than being passed onto the tenants. In this case, no service charge is run for the block and the responsibility for health & safety of the whole block will fall to the freeholder or managing agent.

Health & safety management is made more complex in mixed-use blocks, although the requirements are generally more onerous in residential areas due to the nature of occupation. 

Neglecting health & safety, in the worst case scenario, can lead to death and a charge of corporate manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. Therefore, ensuring that you are competent to manage health & safety in the blocks that you manage is essential, including what your client is liable for and to what extent.

If you want to further your knowledge of residential property management and become RICS qualified, we recommend booking in a 15 minute consultation with Property Elite (https://www.property-elite.co.uk/free-consultation).

Jen Lemen BSc (Hons) FRICS is a partner and co-founder of Property Elite, providing training, support and coaching to candidates, AssocRICS surveyors and Chartered Surveyors for the RICS APC, AssocRICS and FRICS qualifications.

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