30 November, 2015
This month, the Homes and Communities Agency ('HCA') has issued two providers with regulatory notices following failures to meet all applicable statutory requirements that provide for the health and safety of tenants in their homes.
The HCA issued a regulatory notice against Orbit Group Limited following a failure to comply with their statutory duty under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to identify and assess the risk of fire in their properties.
In July 2015, Orbit reported themselves to the HCA as they believed they were in breach of the statutory duty to take precautions, through failure to implement "high risk" actions arising from Fire Risk Assessments. This included having several hundred actions categorised by Orbit as high risk, relating to hundreds of properties that had been outstanding for periods exceeding two years. However, there had been no incidents of fire in its properties related to any of the outstanding actions and all properties which statutorily required alarm and emergency lighting systems had them. Orbit had taken legal advice and was advised that the nature of the overdue actions meant there was a low risk of prosecution under health and safety law.
When Orbit reported themselves to the HCA, they submitted an action-plan detailing how they would deal with the breaches. After reviewing the evidence, the HCA held that the admitted non-compliance with the statutory duty, via failure to implement a large number of high-risk actions for a long period of time, constituted a breach of the Home Standard. The HCA will now consider what, if any, further action to take in relation to the breach of the Home Standard.
The HCA has also issued a regulatory notice against Redditch Borough Council following a failure to comply with their statutory duty under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 which prove that gas safety checks should be undertaken annually by a Gas Safe engineer.
The council informed the HCA that it had identified a significant number of out of date gas safety certificates. In some cases the certificates had been expired for a long time. However, the council were now taking steps to complete the overdue gas safety inspections. After reviewing the evidence, the HCA concluded that the council were in breach of the Home Standard in respect of the requirement to meet all applicable statutory requirements that provide for the health and safety of tenants. The breach exposed a number of tenants to the potential of serious harm for lengthy periods. The HCA will now consider what, if any, further action to take in relation to the breach of the Home Standard.
This Regulatory Notice will be another reminder to landlords of the importance of ensuring the correct policies and procedures are in place to ensure a gas safety inspection is carried out annually. Here at Forbes we have worked alongside a number of Registered Providers to ensure they have robust policies and procedures in place to diarise due dates, deal with tenants who refuse access, and this is then complemented with swift legal action once their internal procedure has been exhausted.
If you have any questions relating to this article, please contact Bethany Paliga by email or on 01772 220241.