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Housing association residents 'refused' fire assessments

Lorraine Jimenez
Image caption Lorraine Jimenez was initially told a fire risk assessment for her flats did not exist

Some housing association residents are still not routinely being given fire risk assessments, the BBC has found.

An independent report, carried out after the Grenfell Tower fire, advised assessments for high-risk flats should be proactively shared with residents.

A BBC investigation found only five out of 20 housing associations proactively published them, while some residents say they weren't shared when requested.

The government said all assessments should be provided "on request".

Dame Judith Hackitt's interim report on fire safety was published in December 2017, six months after 72 people died in the Grenfell Tower fire.

She advised fire risk assessments should be shared in an "accessible way" with residents of multi-occupancy higher risk residential buildings (HRRBs), which she defined as being 10 storeys or more in height.

The Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government told the BBC: "We are consulting on proposals to make it a legal requirement to share fire risk assessments with residents of high-rise buildings on request."

The government defines high-risk buildings as six storeys or more.

It is unclear whether the proposals apply to smaller buildings.

Image caption A resident of Anne Carver Lodge said she struggled to obtain a fire risk assessment

Lorraine Jimenez, who lives in a flat in Wembley managed by Notting Hill Genesis (NHG), said she first requested her fire risk assessment in 2016, but was told the document did not exist for her property.

After the Grenfell fire, she says she "ramped up" her requests. But emails seen by the BBC show she was told in January 2018 that she could not have the risk assessment.

She finally received it in November.

A spokesperson for NHG said "residents living in homes where a fire risk assessment is needed are able to request it through our website".

"Prior to this change, which was made in March this year in light of the Hackitt review, we provided a summary of each FRA upon request."

Image caption Caroline Begg says she hasn't received a response from her request

Another housing association, A2 Dominion, has also been criticised by residents for failing to share fire risk assessments.

Tenants in Clyde House, an eight-storey social housing block in Wandsworth, first raised safety concerns in February, highlighting issues including leaks in electrical cupboards.

Wheelchair user Caroline Begg, 43, has lived in the building since 2013.

"I requested my fire risk assessments a few months ago," she said. "I wanted to know, especially being disabled, how I would get out. I haven't received a response."

An A2 Dominion spokesperson said an assessment had been carried out on 6 March and shared with residents on its website.

"We intend to start sharing the results of all our new fire risk assessments with residents in a more accessible way, starting with our largest properties," they said.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire was marked with a silent walk last month

Homes England, the government's national housing agency, is currently partnered with 23 housing associations - not including NHG or A2 Dominion - with each receiving central government funding for new house building.

An investigation by the BBC found that, of the 20 that responded to requests, only five proactively publish their fire risk assessments, and 13 share them when requested.

Three - Platform Housing, Yorkshire Housing and Your Housing Group - did not publish or share fire risk assessments at all, but said they were planning to do so in the future.

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