Campaigns Environment, Safety and Standards

RLA policy manager to give evidence to Hackitt enquiry

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

RLA policy manager John Stewart, will be presenting evidence to the MHCLG Committee’s Hackitt enquiry on Monday.

The evidence session is being held by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee and is the first following the publication of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, led by Dame Judith Hackitt.

The session was postponed from Wednesday morning.

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.

John Stewart will give evidence at the House of Commons, alongside other industry representatives, fire safety experts insurers and building owners.

They will be asked for their opinions on the review itself as well as fire safety legislation and the use of combustible cladding, as well as looking to the future and the changes needed going forward to improve safety in high rise blocks.

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 worked with other industry experts on a radio package for BBC 5live explaining where responsibility lies regarding fire safety in tower blocks and was appointed to the Welsh Fire Safety Advisory Group that advised the Housing Minister on fire safety.

The RLA is the only body representing private owners to give evidence at tomorrow’s session.

Dr Smith said: “We believe the Government review into building and fire safety regulations was a missed the opportunity to assess fire safety regulations across all types of housing and will be sharing this with the committee tomorrow.

“We want contradictory and outdated fire safety guidance across all housing to be updated to make it clearer for landlords to ensure their properties are safe and improve enforcement and risk assessments by the authorities.

“Doing so would also help to ensure that bad landlords, who are out there, cannot seek to exploit potential loopholes caused by overlapping regulations.”

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.

The evidence session starts at 9.15am can be watched here.

 

The RLA has reviewed its fire safety advice for residential landlords, with an overview available here. Owners of apartments or purpose built flats may also find the Guidance on fire safety in individual flats useful.

In addition to the new guidance the RLA is now offering online and classroom fire safety training courses which cover:

  • The different legislation relating to fire safety.
  • The different building/property types and which pieces of the above legislation apply
  • How to conduct fire risk assessments and protect both your tenants and your property from fire
  • Practical tips on fire safety and with reference to the LACORS fire safety guide.

For more information on our training courses click here.

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Communications Manager for the RLA and award-winning Editor of RPI magazine. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.

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