A lettings sector trade body is warning that contradictory and outdated fire safety guidance needs updating.
At present, landlords or their agent representatives are expected to abide by fire safety guidance which was issued by LACORS, a body that no longer exists, fire safety regulations that date back to 2005 and building regulation guidance issued in 2006.
This is in addition to guidance published in 2006 which covers the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System, used by councils to assess risks in dwellings. For example, the HHSRS guidance suggests a higher standard for detectors and alarms than the existing smoke detector regulations.
Now the Residential Landlords’ Association says that whilst the vast majority of landlords ensure that the safety of their tenants is their main priority, and abide by their legal obligations, the rules are confusing and sometimes contradictory.
The association is calling also for a clear agreement in England and across the devolved administrations to ensure better enforcement and implementation of the responsibilities of councils and fire services of fire safety standards in communal areas in blocks of flats.
The RLA believes that there are too many inconsistencies in approaches from local authorities across the country.
“Whilst establishing the cause of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower is of paramount importance we must not, in the meantime, delay a full review of fire safety standards applying to all housing tenures, including the private rented sector” insists RLA vice chairman Douglas Haig.
“This means updating guidance for landlords which at present fails to reflect the realities of modern day technology and building design. This patchwork quilt of guidance is too easy to exploit for the small minority of landlords who have no place in the sector and gives unclear and inconsistent advice to landlords who wish to comply and ensure that their tenants are safe.
“We need also to ensure better and more consistent enforcement of the regulations. Tenants in any part of the country are entitled to have confidence that the approach taken by fire and local authorities is consistent and offer them the same protection regardless of tenancy type.”