The Hackitt report into building regulations should include more information about the lifetime management of buildings once occupied, RLA Policy Manager John Stewart told a committee of MPs this week.
The evidence session was held by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee and was the first the first following the publication of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, led by Dame Judith Hackitt.
In the report, Dame Judith, an engineer and former chair the Health and Safety Executive, was extremely critical of current regulations which she described as “ambiguous and unclear” and said that for some building firms the “prime motivation is to do things as quickly and cheaply as possible… A race to the bottom”.
However, she did NOT recommend a ban on the use of flammable cladding saying it will “not address the root causes” of the issues that led to the tragedy.
Low rise buildings
During the evidence session, which you can watch again here, Mr Stewart said that while the RLA welcomes some parts of the report, overall it is a missed opportunity because it has a narrow focus looking at high rise residential buildings.
Mr Stewart said in the evidence session that while it is perhaps right that there is an ‘urgent focus’ on high rise buildings, he said that the RLA would ‘welcome some further movement on areas like low rise buildings as well as split responsibilities as well as clarity and guidance but specifically something like a single document that acknowledges the different risk of different types of buildings and different types of lettings agreements. Something that is clear about the steps they (the landlord) need to take as far as possible to mitigate the risk of fire in the building”.
Consistency, clarity and peace of mind
Mr Stewart said what is needed is ‘consistency and clarity’ across the board, and that RLA members want peace of mind, knowing they have done everything they can do to keep tenants safe.
He said that some of the guidance that is already available on fire safety and building regulations could be looked at because there is actually a lot that can be done without primary legislation.
The RLA has led the PRS response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, in which 71 people lost their lives, calling for a simplification of regulations and clarity in responsibility for fire safety in residential buildings.
The RLA helped DCLG contact landlords, owners and managers of PRS blocks to promote the call for urgent safety checks to be carried out and attended a summit held by the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham on fire safety in high rise buildings.
The association submitted a written response to the enquiry and representatives appeared in the media to discuss issues with existing rules and regulations.
RLA Vice Chairman Douglas Haig was appointed to the Welsh Fire Safety Advisory Group that advised the Housing Minister on fire safety.
The RLA was the only body representing private owners to give evidence at the evidence session. Also giving evidence at the session this week were Mark Norris, the Principle Policy Director at the Local Government Association and Huw Evans, the Director General of the Association of British Insurers.
The Committee has already questioned Dame Judith about her report, and chairman Clive Betts MP has written to the Government called for an immediate ban on the use of combustible cladding on high rise buildings.
For more details about the recommendations made in the Hackitt report click here.