Kirklees Council faces a £13m bill to buy new fire doors for its properties

Leaseholders living in ex-council properties including high-rise flats will have to pay for new fire doors.

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 3:00 pm
Council housing at Holays, Dalton

The revelation comes as Kirklees Council prepares to replace 11,447 fire doors at 870 sites across the borough as part of a mammoth safety upgrade.

The cost of the doors alone could top £13m. No figure is available for installation.

The money to pay for the improvements, mandated in the aftermath of the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy, will come from rent revenue.

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Tenants will have the work done for free.

But people who bought council properties or who rent from private landlords will have to shoulder the cost: anywhere from £500 to £1,200 depending on the size, type and configuration of the door.

A spokeswoman for Kirklees Council confirmed: “Leaseholders are expected to pay for their own costs.

“However, in the first instance, we are paying for all door replacements including leaseholder flats. We will seek to recover the costs.”

The authority has also indicated that it is trialling the use of injunctions in order to force people to accept new doors.

The council requires permission to enter private properties to carry out inspections or improvements.

If householders deny access the council has no statutory powers to compel them to cooperate.

It has been described as “a real challenge” and has prompted an investigation into whether, in some cases, it could apply for an order from a judge under the Environmental Protection Act.

Council staff said a lack of reliable certification meant fire doors installed all across the borough over a nine-year period from 2003 to 2012 had to be removed and replaced.

That version of events was contradicted by senior councillor Cathy Scott, the council’s cabinet member for housing, who said improvements were needed following changes to regulatory standards post-Grenfell.

She said proof of certification had been provided and that the council had complete records.

The requirement to replace fire doors follows an independent review of fire safety compliance prompted by major regulatory reform in the wake of the blaze at Grenfell Tower in London.

That report has not been made public despite multiple requests since September by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.