Flat safety called into question

There are an estimated 1.8 million leasehold properties in the UK*, meaning that millions of flats and their occupants are potentially at risk from injury or illness. National statistics show that fire and smoke are among the top three causes of death in the home and annual domestic accidents involving electric currents can reach close to 3,000.

By law, any block of flats with common areas should undertake health & safety and fire risk assessments, typically on an annual basis and have electrical installations assessed every five years. The property must also be surveyed for the presence of asbestos and, if found, monitored on a periodic basis.

The failure to undertake these assessments and address issues identified could be disastrous for leaseholders, and have legal implications for Directors of any Right To Manage, Share of Freehold or Residents Management Committee that mistakenly thinks their agent is taking care of such things. It may even invalidate buildings’ insurance in the event of a serious incident.

Steve Wylie, Director at Urban Owners, comments:

“The lax attitude of many managing agents towards safety is unacceptable. Unprofessional firms are routinely neglecting their legal responsibilities, and following this research it is hard to see how leaseholders could continue to trust the traditional managing agent industry.

“With many agents also imposing unnecessary and excessive service charges on unsuspecting leaseholders, the research is a damning indictment of an industry characterised by outdated working practices and poor levels of customer service. The solution is for leaseholders to take control of the management of their block for themselves. As an added benefit, leaseholders who take control and choose to run their own building typically see a significant reduction in their service charges and have total transparency over the use of funds.”

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