Does the new Fire Safety Bill go far enough or will it leave leaseholders in the lurch?
There are far too few fire safety inspectors planned under proposals set out in the Fire Safety Bill and too little funding being put forward by the Government. This is the view of the Fire Brigades Union, which has slammed the government for what it says is a ?gross underestimate? of the resources that are needed to tackle building safety in England. The Union estimates that three years after the Grenfell Tower fire, more than 50,000 homeowners are still living in unsafe blocks and the new legislation, now going through parliament, will do little to help.
The Fire Safety Bill announced in March, gives additional responsibilities to the fire service to inspect and enforce fire safety in the common parts of residential blocks. This includes the building structure and external walls, stairwells, and doors between individual flats. The government's maximum estimated spend to cover the cost of these inspections is £2.1m. But the FBU told Landlord Today that this would pay for just 35 inspectors - less than one per brigade in England.
Clearly, these numbers are woefully inadequate. However, as Ringley Group MD Mary-Anne Bowring points out, the Hackitt Review did suggest that the Joint Competent Authority to be set up to oversee safety in new and existing buildings over 10 stories should be self-funding; no government money would be required. However, the more likely scenario is a little different.
What we fear is that ultimately, as with the EWS1 form compliance and fire risk assessment and remediation works on blocks below 18 metres, as well as the compartmentation testing that is now becoming standard ? the cost will be an additional burden on leaseholders, who will yet again be left to foot the bill.
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Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
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