Fire safety issues in common stairs not policed, says GWSF
Existing duties on residents to avoid blocking stairwells and other common areas aren’t policed or enforced and so are ineffective, according to the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (GWSF).
Responding to the Scottish Government’s consultation on fire safety in high rise housing, GWSF said that the issue of items left in stairwells is a problem in all types of commonly owned housing and not just in high rise flats.
In its response, the Forum added that it would welcome the proposed Scottish Government-led public information campaign on fire safety in common areas, but that information and advice needs to be accompanied by the right powers and duties and the resources to exercise these properly.
Helen Moore, chair of GWSF, said: “We know that the Scottish Government has been looking at making these provisions – from the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 – more meaningful, with options of doing this through property managers (including social landlords) and/or the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
“Social landlords are in a difficult position here, as enforcing fire safety conditions is hard enough with the landlord’s own tenants, and all but impossible in relation to owners in mixed tenure blocks.
“Landlord sanctions enabling actual enforcement would be unlikely to exist without very significant – and pretty draconian - legislative change, and we don’t think that’s the answer here. So in practice, any new landlord powers would, as now, rely mainly on tenants’ and owners’ goodwill in co-operating with instructions to remove items.
“The obvious advantage of the SFRS having the right powers and sufficient resources is that their remit extends to all housing and not just social housing. And we think people are more likely to act on instructions from SFRS than from their landlord, as they will be seen as the experts on fire safety and more authoritative than landlords on this.”