to expect my council to help me to prevent ANOTHER house FIRE?

(24 Posts)
elizaregina Thu 04-Oct-12 19:12:44

two years ago the house next door went up in flames - it was terraced house occupied by at least 8 - 10 lodgers - with a high turnover of people - certainly no tennancy agrements etc.

the fire alarm was going off pretty much all day and night - so many people cooking, and it was in the kitchen.

when the real fire happpened - of course no one was " alarmed" because...we had all heard it before so many times.

A kind samartion walking by alerted me and the people in the house still sleeping next door. Thanks to him, and only to him, no one was seriuolsy hurt or killed.

The house after being empty and rented to a family is now back to lots of lodgers as of sunday and once again the fire alarm is being set off - from morning till night - once over ten times.

am i being un reasonable to expect the coucil to jump at mine and my neighbours requests for the landlords to be educated on fire hazzards and to go into the house to make sure its safe?

the council response has been lack lusture - weak...and not keen to help at all. i am also currenlty 35 weeks pregnant and been ill all this week due to stress from jumping up to invesitage whether a fire is going on.

does any one have any legal knowlegde/ training that i can quote at the council to GET THIER ARSES IN GEAR before another catasphophe happens!

HecateHarshPants Thu 04-Oct-12 19:15:09

Not unreasonable at all. What about phoning your local fire station and seeing what they suggest?

complexnumber Thu 04-Oct-12 19:21:04

How horrible to be living next door to a fire alarm that is going off all the time!

Especially after your experience of the one time when it was not a false alarm

complexnumber Thu 04-Oct-12 19:22:48

Sorry, not much help offered there, just shared concern

elizaregina Thu 04-Oct-12 19:25:46

Yes, it is.

We also had to leave our house after mould from residual water from the fire - my daughter got a nasty nasty lung infection, we were told to move out due to nasty cultures growing on the walls etc. The up heaval to our lives was horrific.

The problem is the landlords - they just seem to think you buy a house - fill it with as many people as possible and make money.

After the fire - the landlord came along ....laughing....and told all the lodgers to get thier stuff and get out quick and not make a fuss. The lodgers had also been anti social for about two years previous to the fire....

The council needs to get tough with them, and ensure they are runnning the house properly, but even after a house fire they seem so un keen to do this.

I dont know what I can do to MAKE/MOTIVATE them to simpy make sure the landlords know thier responisbilites to us and to thier lodgers!

the house has been run like the wild west so far!

SammyTheSwedishSquirrel Thu 04-Oct-12 19:30:31

I've just looked it up on direct gov. It sounds like a HMO (House in Multiple Occupation), in which case the landlord has to have a licence and be inspected for safety.

Info here

MrsKwazii Thu 04-Oct-12 19:32:59

I can't imagine how worried you are if there's already been one fire in the house next door. Might be worth looking at:www.direct.gov.uk/en/HomeAndCommunity/Privaterenting/Repairsandstandards/DG_189201 for Houses of Multiple Occupation licensing guidance. Find out who the Councillor in charge of Environmental Health for your Council is and email them directly with your concerns, ccing in the Licensing Service. Might gee them up a bit.

I would also talk to the local fire station as other posters suggest. They may know more about what (if anything) can and should be done. Good luck!

MrsKwazii Thu 04-Oct-12 19:34:57

Apologies if you've already done this, but also go onto your local council website to find out who your local councillor is and see if they hold surgeries where you can go to discuss your concerns. And copy them into any correspondence to the Environmental Health Cabinet member and licensing service. They're there to help you out.

elizaregina Thu 04-Oct-12 19:36:23

unfortunalty - each borough has different criteria on HMO;s.

With ours i think it has to be three story - to qualify as one.

however - although AFTER the fire - when the house was being repaired they did and put in an additional loft room without the proper fire precautions needed - its only two storey.

geegee888 Thu 04-Oct-12 19:36:57

I don't blame you for being concerned. Should this house not be an HMO and require neighbour notification each year for renewal of its license? Can't you complain?

That said, I have an HMO in Scotland. It has mains smoke alarms in all rooms, even cupboards, with 30 minute battery back up, special heat and carbon monoxide detectors in the kitchen, etc.. The whole system is so sensitive, it goes off every time my tenants make toast. They cannot smoke (which is good). Thats what the Council insists on. Its actually a nightmare to live in, and probably next to, as well. At least however its not a double upper with a compulsary sprinkler system, that would be a real nuisance for the neighbours if it kept getting set off!

YY, definitely talk to the local fire station - they should hopefully be able to offer advice on how to deal with this.

Is there any chance you can move again?

elizaregina Thu 04-Oct-12 19:39:45

I have got my local MP invloved but the time scales and seemingly in effective idea of how to tackle this are worrying me - as its bad enough dealing with this now - but i am due in three weeks, and having a section.

I am dreading having to deal with this - whilst having had major surgery.

Thanks for EH cabinet member advise and licensing service idea. Will try them tomorow.

elizaregina Thu 04-Oct-12 19:42:34

Yes would def think about moving but at the moment - with baby due in three weeks and monitary issues not feasible right now.

i dont understand why the council cant simply lay down the law to the landlords - educate them - tell them they have duties - if they are not forfilled then they could be fined x, y z, THAT would make them sit up and take more care of the place?????

MrsKwazii Thu 04-Oct-12 19:43:19

Just got this from the HMO page I linked to earlier:

Your property is an HMO if you let (or plan to let) to at least three tenants who form more than one household and who share (or will share) toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities. If so, you may need a licence.

Mandatory HMO licences
You must have a licence if you own a large HMO. A large HMO has:
three or more storeys
five or more tenants forming more than one household

Some councils require smaller HMOs or all HMOs in certain areas to have a licence as well. You should contact your local council to see if you need one.

Can any of your neighbours take up the baton for you? Of course it's a worry if you're going to be dealing with a CS and new baby.

elizaregina Thu 04-Oct-12 19:48:49

MrsK

Our council seems to want to do anything to not prove its an HMO etc...last time when we told them who was living there and indeed - where the majority of them moved too - still on the road - they didnt want to know!

As far as I am aware the very point of HMO's are to protect lodgers and neighbours from this VERY kind of hideous landlord! But this is part of my frustration, the council didnt then and doesnt now seemed bothered.

My neighbours who stradle the other side of the FIRE house - have also complained - they were also terrified and distressed etc but they are being very weak in thier complaints - and its me - who has this section looming fast.

two weeks ago i was so excited thinking about the new baby ( have 5 year old dd), and getting bits and bobs together, then I had the devestating news that the lovely family was leaving, then on sunday the new people moved in, adn since then, I have been stressed, ill, at doctors - writing emails - trying to drum up a response but I am not really getting one.

elizaregina Thu 04-Oct-12 19:51:11

i was sooo looking forward to this baby - i had an awfully traumatic time the first time round but now i am scared wondering how i will cope and what awful timing it is - also DH cant stand up to people - so its literally me who has to deal with this.

elizaregina Thu 04-Oct-12 19:52:38

what I was wondering is are there any legal phrases such as a " duty of care" etc I can throw at the council to MAKE THEM step up and help protect us all.

elizaregina Thu 04-Oct-12 20:22:24

OR, maybe it is nothing to do with the council!

EdMcDunnough Thu 04-Oct-12 20:28:10

It certainly is within the council's remit. And they ought to be doing something.

We live in a converted building, and recently had to have all sorts of massive interventions put in - radio linked smoke alarms, to all the flats, and fireproofed walls and ceilings.

It cost a fortune but the LL would have got taken to court if he hadn't complied. So he had to get it done.

You want to talk to Building Regulations at the council, they are the geezers - and ask them if you can make a report about an HMO which is being run very poorly. They should send someone round. Emails might be better than calls as then they can't deny you reported this.

Try Building regs and see how you get on. Also yes try the local fire station and ask them what you can do. They will be motivated to help you.

EdMcDunnough Thu 04-Oct-12 20:30:10

Any property with three floors (like two plus a loft room/attic conversion) must have fire doors throughout.

I'm not sure if you're saying this house has that - if so it's against the law not to have proper precautions in place.

EdMcDunnough Thu 04-Oct-12 20:31:02

Though they might have scraped in before those laws came into effect, I'm not sure. BR dept will know.

BigFatLegsInWoolyTIghts Thu 04-Oct-12 20:36:03

It sounds like their cooker needs cleaning. This kept happening in an old student house of mine...the cooker was disgusting and smoked everytime it was used.

OrangeandGoldMrsDeVere Thu 04-Oct-12 20:37:12

I have this problem.
My next door neighbours have built a bungalow in their back garden and moved in. They now rent their house out as rooms.

The council are not interested because the bungalow dwellers are insisting that they are all one family.
The council just take this as read because I suppose they assume that all Asian families live like this and its a 'cultural' thing hmm
Despite at least one being white and the rest all being about the same age.

(the above is not me being racist, its the opposite. The council are guilty of making assumptions based on ignorance, my neighbours are merely taking advantage of it).

So we have lots of people living in a private house with no boiler checks or other safety regulations.

elizaregina Thu 04-Oct-12 22:30:21

i saw a panorma program on landlords a long time ago - some of the atrocoties were horrendous - the condtions some people had to live in, and yet councils dont go after landlords, the rate of landlords actuallly taken to court was tiny....

something must be going on behind closed doors....some secret order not to investigate etc..

the only thing that saved us - from a non fire proof attic room, and another neighbour from foundation damaging basement exavatoin is the planning regs - and now they want to do away with them also...

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