A critical question which was asked to all property managing agents after the Grenfell fire disaster was “Does your organisation have an agreed plan to be used if a block of flats has to be evacuated at short notice and residents cannot go back to their homes?”
The question was obviously asked because the biggest criticism after the fire at Grenfell was the lack of support for those left homeless. Local authorities have a duty to assist homeless persons.
The legal position for private sector landlords however, is as usual complex. There appears to be no legal obligation on landlords to offer alternative accommodation but in the private sector arena residents often like to make their own arrangements. If necessary, contact with local authority emergency planning teams would be helpful, but it is a considerable short term problem. If buildings insurance has been correctly placed, depending on the level and extent of damage, the building can be repaired or rebuilt followed by the necessary discussions with displaced residents. But this is not a short term solution. Some policies especially those which cover residential properties with elderly and potentially vulnerable adults in them, have provision for re-housing after a fire. But this is not necessarily available for all buildings, and especially for the tenants of lessees who rent out their flat. Our advice at 2 Rivers to RTMs and RMCs is to check with your managing agent, whether rehousing is included in your building insurance in the event of flood or fire. Discuss among yourselves as residents, how important it is to you, to have this form of cover.
After the Lakanal House fire a report about the forms of assistance given to tenants and lessees by the local authority was produced. Click here to see it.
There are clearly solutions to homelessness after a fire, but better still for the 5 pieces of advice given by the government to be followed and the damage done by a fire should it happen, to be as limited as possible. The damage done at Grenfell has more or less emptied the building. Our thoughts continue to be with those who lived there.