The RLA is calling for every residential building to have a single identifiable person who is responsible for assessing and overseeing fire safety measures, as it publishes its submission to the Hackitt review.
Currently, important fire safety improvements risk not being taken, because the responsibilities for the various aspects of fire safety are shared between the owners of a block, the fire services, the local authority and the owner of individual flats, so there is confusion over responsibilities for carrying them out.
Fire Safety Compliance Code
In its submission to the Government’s building regulation review, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, the RLA says that a new fire safety compliance code should be created to support individuals, and make sure that other people involved with the building, such as occupiers, play their part.
Currently, the responsibility for fire safety measures is split between local councils and the fire service.
However, The RLA believes that there should be one enforcement body for fire safety measures. This would improve accountability and address the risk that fire safety responsibilities fall through the cracks between different authorities and individuals.
Update fire safety guidance
The RLA is also warning that contradictory and outdated fire safety guidance needs updating to better support good landlords.
At present, landlords 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 (HHSRS), used by councils to assess risks in dwellings.
Confusingly, the existing smoke detector regulations suggest a lower standard for detection and fire alarms for various properties than that which is in fact needed under this Guidance. This is one example of the contradictions under the current regime
RLA Policy Consultant, Richard Jones, said: “It is vital that the right lessons are learnt to prevent a tragedy such as Grenfell Tower happening again.
“Whilst there are widespread powers and regulations already available to ensure properties are safe, too often they are not being properly applied as a result of confused and sometimes contradictory guidance and no single person having overall responsibility for fire safety in a residential building.
“This needs to change to give residents piece of mind and ensure much better lines of accountability on such serious issues”.
The Hackitt Review was set up in the wake of the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in June. The RLA previously spoke at a meeting ahead of the Grenfell Inquiry, which was chaired by Sir Martin Moore-Bick.