Fire Safety Review Misses Opportunity to Tackle Issues

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A new fire safety review from the government into fire and safety regulations has ‘missed the opportunity’ to reassess fire safety across all forms of housing.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has spoken out in a formal response to the interim report of the independent fire safety review of building regulations and fire safety, led by Dame Judith Hackitt. The RLA has raised concerns regarding the report’s focus on new build properties,

In its response the RLA said: ‘we are concerned about the Interim Report’s focus on new build and high rise residential buildings, largely to the exclusion of the existing stock of smaller residential accommodation.’ The RLA described the guidance issued in the report as ‘contradictory’ and ‘outdated.’

The landlord body suggested that the guidance should be updated to apply to all housing in order to make it clearer for investors to ensure that their properties are kept safe. Improved guidance would also aid enforcement and risk assessments by authorities. This would prevent rogue landlords exploiting loopholes caused by overlapping regulations.

The RLA also raised concerns regarding the split responsibilities of the fire services and local authorities in relation to bedsit accommodation and blocks of flats.

Policy consultant to the RLA, Richard Jones, commented: ‘Grenfell Tower was a tragedy that must never be repeated. It is vital that the Government’s review looks at fire and building safety issues in the round, and not just tower blocks. Ever growing volumes of complex and sometimes difficult to understand guidance causes confusion among tenants, landlords, local authorities and the fire services.’

He continued: ‘We need much clearer guidance, in line with current standards, to develop a strengthened risk assessment regime with much more transparent lines of accountability about who is responsible for enforcing what. Standards for high rise blocks clearly need to be revisited and changed. We owe it to the memory of all those who lost their lives, and their loved ones, to get this right once and for all.’

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