Housing association ‘slammed’ over fire safety failings

Housing association ‘slammed’ over fire safety failings

Kinsman Housing, which had previously been ‘censured’ for selling homes on the open market, has now been criticised by the housing regulator for fire safety issues that placed ‘tenants at risk’.

Inside Housing reported on the censure from the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH), with Kinsman Housing having been criticised in a regulatory notice last November for acquiring homes ‘meant for social housing and selling them on the open market, with proceeds going to an investor’. This week, the RSH issued a second notice criticising the south east London association for being ‘extremely slow to act’ over what it deemed ‘serious’ fire safety issues at one of its properties’.

The company had been warned that one of its new buildings was ‘affected by safety issues’ in January 2017, but it did not carry out survey work until September 2018 ‘following an intervention from the regulator’. As a result, the notice pointed out, ‘this means that for a considerable period of time, Kinsman did not have assurance that its building was safe and that tenants were not at risk of harm’.

That aforementioned survey last September recommended ‘more intrusive’ inspections, later carried out in December, and this ‘identified some serious and wide-ranging concerns in relation to fire safety’. A separate fire risk assessment had been undertaken in January 2018 that ‘identified a number of actions required to make the building safe’, but the RSH said that ‘these risks were known about for a considerable period of time’.

It went on to state that ‘the evidence demonstrates that Kinsman was extremely slow to act when concerns were raised and failed to identify significant risks’. While Kinsman is now ‘making progress’ in remedying the fire safety issues, the RSH stated: ‘Taking into account the seriousness of the issues, and the duration for which tenants were potentially exposed to risk, the regulator has concluded that it is proportionate to find that Kinsman has breached the Home Standard [for services to tenants] and that there was a risk of serious detriment to tenants during this period.’

In addition, it will ‘work with Kinsman as it seeks to address the issues’, and will consider whether it needs to undertake further enforcement action, with the previous regulatory notice having found Kinsman was ‘non-compliant’ with the RSH’s standards for governance and financial viability.