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Fire safety update no. 2 - Government puts pressure on private sector landlords/agents

14 August 2017

On 11th of August the government wrote to all local authorities in England asking them to take further steps to identify privately owned blocks of flats that may have cladding which is now deemed to be contra to building regulations following tests.

The letter goes further to ask local authorities to check if landlords/ agents of those blocks are carrying out necessary fire safety checks and any necessary remedial works. The letter reminds local authorities of their powers to prosecute private landlords for failings.

Here are some extracts from the letter.

“I am sure you therefore agree it is of the utmost importance you take active steps to ensure that building owners of residential tower blocks are taking measures to ensure that their residents are safe and feel safe, particularly where buildings have been found to have cladding systems which have failed the combustibility tests.

My Department will be following up with you on the extent to which you have been able to identify buildings with ACM cladding. My Department will also ask for updates on the progress of any necessary remedial actions taken by building owners, where such cladding is not compliant with current Building Regulations guidance.

This might include:

  •  identifying all high-rise residential buildings with ACM cladding;
  •  ensuring the owners of such buildings identify the exact wall system (ACM cladding type and insulation material); and
  •  based on this, advising building owners to follow the steps set out in DCLG’s advice to landlords following the large-scale system tests.

If private sector building owners do not comply with your requests, I will look at what further action can be taken to support you in carrying out your responsibilities. It is of course important to highlight that local housing authorities do have enforcement powers, under the Housing Act, to direct landlords to take action, and can ultimately step in to undertake remedial work where necessary, then reclaim the cost from the owner.”

“For example, where you identify fire hazards – determined in accordance with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System Regulations 2005 – local housing authorities can take appropriate action. This might include issuing improvement notices, prohibition orders, emergency prohibition orders or taking emergency remedial action, depending on the particular circumstances. Landlords can face a £30,000 penalty or an unlimited fine for failure to comply with an Improvement Notice. In addition, they can be required to repay tenants up to 12 months rent.”

You can read the letter here.

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