TENANTS AT ‘SERIOUS RISK’ OVER FIRE SAFETY FAILINGS SAYS HOUSING REGULATOR
Greenwich Council in London has been found to be in breach of housing standards, including failing to remedy hundreds of high-risk fire safety defects, and having more than 400 fire risk assessments of its housing stock outstanding.
The council was also found by the Regulator of Social Housing to have more than 1,000 communal properties and in excess of 10,000 domestic properties without a current electrical condition report, as well as failures of asbestos and water safety.
The regulator concluded that the council had breached part 1.2 of the Home Standard, and that there was the potential for ‘serious detriment’ to its tenants. That part of the Home Standard requires registered providers to have a cost-effective repairs and maintenance service, and to meet all applicable statutory requirements that provide for the health and safety of occupants in their homes. The council referred itself to the regulator in May 2022, when it identified a potential failure to meet statutory health and safety requirements in some of its homes.
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the council has a statutory duty to regularly assess the risk of fire and to take general fire precautions. The regulator found that that there were more than 400 fire risk assessments outstanding, and there were hundreds of high-risk remedial actions from assessments which were unresolved.
The regulator said that complying with statutory health and safety requirements is a fundamental responsibility of all registered providers, because of the potential for serious harm to tenants. “The Royal Borough of Greenwich has demonstrated to the regulator that it understands the work it needs to undertake to ensure the required statutory checks and relevant safety actions are completed.
“However, taking into account the seriousness of the issues, the duration for which tenants were exposed to risk and the number of tenants potentially affected, the regulator has concluded that [the council] has breached the Home Standard, and that there was a risk of serious detriment to tenants during this period.”
The regulator is not taking statutory action at this stage, however, preferring to work with and monitor the council as it addresses the issues.
On its website, the council lists some of the actions it is taking, including replacing or repairing fire doors, ensuring adequate compartmentation of individual flats, installing or repairing automatic opening vents, and servicing of equipment such as fire alarms and extinguishers. A spokesperson for the Royal Borough of Greenwich said:
“On 13 May 2022, we referred ourselves voluntarily to the Regulator of Social Housing, following an internal review where we found we were not fully meeting safety standards in some areas.
“We take residents’ safety extremely seriously and are currently rapidly addressing the backlog. We have already completed some of the outstanding actions needed, and residents will have seen work being carried out in their home or estate over the past few months.
“We have also implemented an action plan to improve our safety work in the long term, with checks in place to make sure we are effective, and will continue to work closely with the Regulator for Social Housing on this issue.”
Author: FPA Media