What’s this all about?
Leaseholders of 54 flats, the Oxford Tower Block Leaseholder Association (OTLA), challenged Oxford City Council (OCC) with regards to service charges, one of the aspects challenged was to with paying for retro-fitting water sprinklers.
This challenge went to the First Tier Property Tribunal (FTPT), case reference CAM/38UC/LSC/2o16/oo64. Click on this paragraph to review the case.
What was the outcome?
Referring to page 34 Item 37 it states the following;
Description (Column B)
S63 – Sprinklers; supply and install new sprinkler system to protect flats; new sprinkler feed taken from roof top water storage tank, install prionty valve on all tanks, single residential sprinkler pump in each tank room; sprinkler main shall drop to serve all floors with an isolation valve, flow switch and test valve on each floor
Reason for doing the work (Column C)
Following recent tragedies in housing tower blocks and the latest fire safety guidance and advice, the Council wish to enhance the safety of all residents for future years. The Council are not prepared to ignore this advice and put the lives of their residents at risk.
Sch 5, 3rd item
OTLA response (Column F)
No. The Council has not covenanted to provide, maintain or repair a fire prevention system. Irrecoverable due to statutory restrictions on RTB leases.
Leaseholder response (Column G)
“The Council wish to enhance the safety…” – this can only be an improvement, not a repair. There is no existing sprinkler system. During consultation the City council claimed this improvement in fire safety is required to avoid press criticism, There is no legal requirement to retrofit sprinklers, even in high rise buildings
Council response (Column H)
This repair is part of guidance issued by OFRS due to the level of repairs to existing situations in the blocks. Please see above.
FTT response (Column I)
It is clear that this is an improvement and the cost is not recoverable
Did Wandsworth Borough Council know about this case?
19th June 2018 – After the meeting of the Roehampton Partnership a resident from the Alton Estate gave extracts of this report to Councillor Claire Gilbert and Councillor Kim Caddy.
20th June 2018 – Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HROSC) Councillor Claire Gilbert presented the information to Council employees. It was noted during the meeting by the Director of Housing that they were aware of this case though believed it was a different situation. As far as we can tell this has not been Minuted nor is there any ask by Councillors regarding this information not being shared previously if known?
Did the timings have anything to do with WBC’s approach to take this to the FTPT?
Have a look at the case and it states the following;
“Date and Venue of Hearing: 12th, 13th and 14th September 2017 at Cambridge County Ct., 197 East Road, Cambridge CB1 1BA”
The Council paper (17-269) which stated that service charges could be charged to leaseholders (refer to sections 19 and 20) was discussed at the HROSC of 14th September 2017. Which happens to be day 3 of the Tribunal?
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