One of the major problems caused by uncontrolled subletting was that of individual landlords continually dumping large household items in the common areas. Some years before we took over, someone visiting the building had a row with one of the occupants and tossed something into the pile in the walkway that went up in flames. Whether it was by accident or design we never knew but we had no freeholder, no managing agent and no buildings insurance!
This what the fire damage looked like.
This was not the end though because there had been an ongoing leak at what turned out to be the seat of the fire and no landlord had ever been able to carry out a permanent fix. So, it took literally years to not only accumulate the funds to repair the damage but to finally get a landlord to carry out a fix that lasted long enough for us to be confident of carrying out repairs.
These photo’s show the repaired fire damage.
All fire safety legislation in England and Wales is gathered under the Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2005 designed to simplify the existing legal requirements at the time. It states that employers must ‘ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees’.
In 2009, fire risk assessments were no longer carried out on blocks of flats like ours but periodic visits from the fire brigade did lead to us being advised that as we were not a ‘closed’ block we did not require an external fire alarm system. The fire officer did make reference to the possibility of an early warning system that would interconnect all flats with each other so that if a fire started in one of the flats then the alarm would go off in all of them. Not too clever if someone simply keeps burning toast (his words not mine!)
Another suggestion was the possibility of having just one alarm installed in a single flat on each floor, so if a fire should break out in that particular flat then others in the block would be warned. He finished by saying that these are not legal requirements, simply something to bear in mind for future reference.
We were however required to ensure that an emergency action plan should be formulated and placed in strategic points throughout the building which we subsequently implemented.
Large items are still being placed in the same areas for which we used to use council services which were free but their requirements got somewhat complicated so we now use a contractor supplied by our managing agent to get the items removed which is much quicker and less complicated!