Social Landlords are Ignoring Fire Safety Rules

Fire enforcement notices are issued where a landlord has failed to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  They set out corrective measures that landlords are legally obliged to complete within a specific timescale.

Research carried out by Inside Housing reveals that over the last six months for which records are available (between the beginning of September 2011 and March 2012) at least 35 notices have been served on social landlords.

The majority of the enforcement notices (29) were served on London-based landlords.  The news comes less than three years after a high-profile tragedy which highlighted the importance of fire safety in tower blocks, when six people died in Southwark Council’s 12-storey tower block, Lakanal House.

London Fire Brigade confirmed that it had carried out audits on 1,642 blocks of flats with four or more storeys in 2011/12, a figure which includes blocks that are not owned by social landlords.  In 66 cases (4 %) it issued an enforcement notice following the audit.

In the same year the London Fire Brigade audited an overall total of 13,229 premises and issued 694 enforcement notices, 5 % of the total.

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has received five enforcement notices on tower blocks since December.  A spokesperson said the safety of residents was its ‘primary concern’ and that it works hand-in-hand with the fire brigade to comply with ‘the very strictest of safety standards’.

‘A programme to address items identified has been produced and £1.7 million set aside in this year’s budget to finance the work,’ he added.

Lambeth Council received one notice in November last year and five since the beginning of 2011.  A spokesperson for Lambeth Living, the borough’s arm’s-length management organisation, said it had a dedicated fire safety team that had completed more than 2,900 fire risk assessments.  ‘We also have in place a £4 million programme of rewiring work with a further £5 million earmarked for other fire safety works on buildings in the coming year,’ she added.

A spokesperson for the LFB said it had no problems with individual housing providers and that it is ‘looking to support social landlords’.

‘Apart from houses converted to flats the percentage of enforcement notices [on residential properties] is lower than our average [for all premises, including non-residential],’ he added.

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