Fire-safety issues represent a significant risk to registered providers of social housing. The largely unexpected fire safety risks identified following the Grenfell Tower disaster have exerted significant pressure on social housing budgets.
Providers now face an increasing list of fire-safety issues and the multifaceted nature of fire safety requires a “whole business” approach, which can include:
- asset management;
- resident engagement;
- review of internal policies, and
- complying with regulatory obligations.
Put simply, the need for innovative, joined-up legal support to address these issues has never been greater.
Fire safety legal advice
We routinely advise social housing providers on serious fire-safety issues across a range of legal disciplines. Our fire safety team combines deep housing sector knowledge with legal expertise to advise on the wide-ranging fire safety risks and issues faced by our social housing clients.
Asset management and fire safety
Asset managers are often on the front line when it comes to addressing fire-safety issues, including removal of Aluminium Composite Material (“ACM”) and High-Pressure Laminate (“HPL”) cladding systems, fire stopping and fire compartmentation issues, replacement of Glass Reinforced Plastic (“GRP”) composite doors, and defective sprinkler installation. We can support with undertaking investigations to identify the extent and nature of fire safety defects along with remedial schemes. We also have extensive experience in advising on claims against consultants and contractors responsible for fire-safety issues, recovering the costs of remedial schemes from the parties responsible.
Engaging residents with fire safety
We provide advice on strategies for communicating with residents and rights of access to individual dwellings under tenancy agreements to carry out fire safety works, including the use of court proceedings where necessary. We also provide advice on social housing providers’ obligations under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 as regards fire safety.
Fire-safety policies for social housing providers
The fire safety of a property can be affected by resident use, such as the storage and battery charging of mobility scooters, the extent to which flammable materials are stored in communal areas, and the permitted uses of balconies as storage or cooking areas. We can review policies and provide input into how social housing providers can manage these risk areas, particularly in the context of resident engagement and rights under tenancy agreements.
Fire safety regulations for social housing providers
A complex regulatory environment governs fire safety, including the Building Regulations, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the Housing Act 2004 and Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018. Further regulation is anticipated following the Hackitt Report, including the establishment of a new Building Safety Regulator, and the Fire Safety Bill (announced in the Queen’s Speech in December 2019). Furthermore, directors of social housing providers may also owe a duty of care to their residents under existing health and safety legislation. We are experienced in advising social housing providers with regulatory issues arising from breach of the Home Standard and wider regulatory obligations, advising on directors’ and officers’ duties concerning health and safety, and liaising with the Regulator of Social Housing on behalf of clients.
If you have any concerns relating to fire safety in your organisation or would like to discuss how we can assist you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further fire safety advice and training
We regularly speak at national level conferences and training events, write for industry publications, and provide training direct to client organisations regarding the legal implications of fire-safety issues and how to address these effectively. For further advice and support, contact email@example.com.
Fire safety team
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