The UK is seeing more large scale apartment development, especially in city centres where land is more expensive per square metre. In Manchester for example one new block is being constructed to house some 1100 people inside co-living spaces over 25 storeys high. In theory, the building should never catch fire, let’s hope so.
But new research highlights how many apartment owners and tenants feel that fire prevention isn’t being addressed properly. Here’s the word;
New research, jointly conducted by leading digital construction solution providers, Zutec and Createmaster, reveals the majority of UK non-freehold tenants do not feel 100% safe within the building in which they live. A national sample of 2,000 UK non-freehold tenants was surveyed twice over an 18-month period (from 2021-2023) to assess whether their perception and impression of building safety has changed.
Only 39% confirmed they feel ‘very safe’ in their properties. This figure remained consistent, with no change in the 18 months between the two like-for-like polls being conducted—despite mounting pressure on asset owners and property managers surrounding incoming building regulations, such as the Building Safety Act 2022.
FAULTY SPRINKLERS, FIRE DOORS LOCKED
Almost half (41%) of residents questioned in 2023 also stated they have experienced or observed fire safety hazards in their building/home such as non-existent or faulty sprinkler systems, fire alarms or extinguishers, or issues such as fire escapes being locked. However, this figure was an improvement on 18 months ago, where over two-thirds (68%) had observed or experienced fire safety issues in their building. This demonstrates some progress has been made in making changes to improve fire safety in residential buildings.
The research also found that access to fire certificates and building information remained inconsistent. Despite an 11% increase in residents having access to fire safety certificates since 2021, four in ten who responded still highlighted they had not seen this crucial document in relation to their building.
Against the backdrop of the new Fire Safety Regulations, which became binding yesterday, these figures are a stark reminder to landlords and asset owners that more work needs to be done to provide access to legally required information that assuage fire safety concerns while ensuring issues are being addressed.
FAULT REPORTING & ACTION IS ESSENTIAL
Commenting on the findings, Emily Hopson-Hill, Zutec’s Chief Operating Officer said: “Given the massive legislative focus placed on resident safety above all else, following the considerable work of Dame Judith Hackitt post Grenfell, these results mean as an industry we still have a lot of work to do.
“The findings show there have been some clear improvements in available and accessible building information over the 18-month period. The collective effort already being made by developers, asset owners and property managers towards regaining trust with tenants is starting to show in our survey results.
“However, newly enforced regulation, the stipulation for a digital “Golden Thread’ of information across the asset lifecycle, and the requirement to sign-up to the Building Safety Regulator in October 2023 will go further to remediate these relationships as the emphasis is to ensure all stakeholders, including tenants, have access to the building information and issues are resolved quickly. It will also have the added bonus of effective asset operation, while driving up quality, strengthening compliance and reducing risk.”