Housing safety laws are not up to scratch, according to a new report by Shelter.
The study – conducted by Universities of Bristol and Kent researchers in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire – discovered 85% of housing professionals believe current rules and regulations are failing to protect the nation’s tenants.
Shelter called for an overhaul in safety standards.
They’ve failed so catastrophically that those living in social housing are no longer safe
“The laws which are meant to protect people in their homes are inadequate and outdated, stretching back to the Victorian times,” said the charity’s chief executive Polly Neate.
“They’ve failed so catastrophically that those living in social housing are no longer safe.”
The academics surveyed tenants as well as landlords and housing lawyers for the report “Closing The Gaps: Health And Safety In Housing.” They found that confusing web of current legislation was divorced from housing problems as residents have experienced them.
Some local authorities had said they did not want to place “unnecessarily burdensome” demands on builders, landlords and management groups. And cuts to legal aid have made raising housing safety cases more difficult.
“It’s shocking, it’s concerning, it’s ludicrous, ridiculous and dangerous,” said David Cowan, one of the report’s authors.
Last week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on the government to find £1 billion to install fire safety sprinklers in all high-rise social housing (blocks over 30 metres tall).
“The evidence is overwhelming,” said Corbyn. “When almost every authoritative source on the matter is saying the same thing – that retrofitting of sprinklers is necessary in high-rise housing – this measure is just common sense and will protect thousands of lives.
“Grenfell was an avoidable tragedy. It did not have to happen and it would not have happened if adequate precautions, including sprinklers, were in place.”
A public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire continues.