Inside Housing’s excellent Safe as Houses campaign was launched as a result of the death of six people in July 2009 at Lakanal House.
Tenants in high-rise flats were rightly concerned about the safety risks they faced and looked to the regulator, the Tenant Services Authority, and the government to ensure landlords assess these risks.
Following the Safe as Houses campaign, the TSA said it would set up a register for high-rise buildings. This would have given tenants confidence that the regulator and the government were involved in monitoring landlords to ensure they have carried out fire safety assessments. We now understand that the government and the TSA have dropped the project.
Are tenants going to be comfortable in the knowledge the government and the regulator will rely on the Health and Safety Executive, the local council and the fire service to monitor and regulate safety in high-rise homes?
Tenants’ confidence is unlikely to be high unless prosecutions for criminal corporate manslaughter are quickly and successfully pursued.
However, there is good news. Housing minister Grant Shapps is committed to giving tenants the right to scrutiny through local tenants’ panels. The four national tenants’ organisations are all working together to produce a template for tenants’ panels. Tenant panels will mean tenants can hold their landlords to account over high-rise fire safety and draw in the Homes and Communities Agency and TSA, where landlords continue to fail.
John Townend, Tenants’ and Residents’ Organisations of England board member (for and on behalf of TAROE)