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Lords votes on Fire Safety Bill as stages conclude

29 April 2021

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The Fire Safety Bill returned again to the House of Lords for consideration of Commons amendments in ‘ping pong’, on Wednesday 28 April.

Members discussed Commons decisions on Lords amendments requiring new legislation to protect leaseholders and tenants from remediation costs to meet fire safety needs and preventing costs being passed on until a relevant statutory scheme is in place.

There was one vote on Motion A2, which sought to prohibit tenant and leaseholder liability for remedial costs exceeding £500, excluding situations where the leaseholder is also a part owner of the building.

Members voted 153 in favour and 242 against, so the change was not made.

As both Houses have agreed on the text of the bill it now awaits the final stage of Royal Assent. It will then become an Act of Parliament (law).

Royal Assent is expected to take place on Thursday 29 April.

Consideration of Commons amendments: Tuesday 27 April

Members voted in favour of a change on fire safety costs.

There was one division (vote) on a proposed change to the bill.

Fire safety costs

Motion A1 requires new legislation to protect leaseholders and tenants from remediation costs to meet fire safety needs and prevents costs being passed on until a relevant statutory scheme is in place.

Members voted 329 in favour and 247 against so the change was made.

Consideration of Commons amendments: Tuesday 20 April

Members discussed a series of amendments, asking the government to think again on ensuring costs for remedial building works required by a Fire Safety Order are not passed onto leaseholders and tenants.

A division (vote) was held on Motion A1, which sought to prevent building owners passing on remediation costs until a statutory scheme is in place to prevent leaseholders and tenants from being liable for such payments.

Members voted 322 in favour and 236 against, so the change was made.

The bill returned to the House of Commons for further consideration of Lords amendments.

Consideration of Commons amendments: Wednesday 17 March

Members asked the government to think again on banning costs of remedial building works for leaseholders and tenants. Regular inspections of doorways and lifts also came under the spotlight.

There was one division (vote) on a motion to add four changes to the bill. This sought to prevent building owners and lessors from passing on the costs of any remedial work required under a Fire Safety Order onto leaseholders or tenants.

Members voted 326 in favour and 248 against, so the change was made.

The bill returned to the House of Commons for further consideration of Lords amendments.

Third reading: Tuesday 24 November

No changes to the wording of the bill were suggested ahead of third reading.

Members discussed the progress of the bill through the House at its conclusion of Lords stages.

Report stage: Tuesday 17 November

Members discussed a range of topics and asked the government to think again on building owner and manager duties, public registers of fire risk assessments and prevention of remediation costs being passed from freedholders to tenants.

There were three divisions (votes) on proposed amendments (changes) to the bill.

The first was on amendment to place various duties on owners and managers of buildings containing two or more domestic premises, and implement the recommendations made in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 Report

Members voted 269 for and 250 against, so the change was made.

The second was on amendment 10 and enables prospective and current renters, leaseholders and owners to check the fire safety status of their home by accessing a public register, similar to the Energy Performance Certificate register.

Members voted 284 for and 267 against, so the change was made.

The third was on amendment 13 and prevents freeholders passing on remediation costs to leaseholders and tenants through demands for one-off payments or increases in service charges.

Members voted 275 in favour and 262 against, so the change was made.

Committee stage: Thursday 29 October

Members discussed a range of topics including electrical appliances, the duties of the owner or manager of a building (implementing recommendations made in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 Report) and establishing a fire safety code of practice. 

Second reading: Thursday 1 October

Members remembered the 72 victims of the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017, the greatest loss of life in a residential fire since World War Two. They stressed the importance of working at pace so the bill’s measures – to clarify that the responsible person for a block of flats must manage the fire risk of the building’s structure, cladding, balconies, windows and entrance doors – ensure it can never happen again.

Lord Greenhalgh (Conservative), Home Office Minister and the bill's sponsor in the Lords, opened the debate. 

Speakers included a former TUC General Secretary who worked with the Fire Brigades Union on fire safety and a former member of the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority.

Fire Safety Bill

This bill aims to

  • clarify that the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to external walls (including cladding, balconies and windows) and individual flat entrance doors in multi-occupied residential buildings
  • ensure building owners, leaseholders or managers for multi-occupied residential buildings who are likely to be the responsible persons have assessed the fire safety risks of the premises for which they are responsible and taken necessary precautions
  • ensure Fire and Rescue Authorities have the relevant enforcement powers to hold owners or managers to account
  • complement the existing powers local authorities have to take enforcement action against building owners and managers under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System
  • support the Government’s intended action to implement the specific recommendations made in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase One Report.

Image: Bernard Hermant: Unsplash