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Checklist for tenants in buildings affected by safety problems

There have been a number of high-profile evacuations from buildings in response to structural and fire safety concerns in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. In August 2017, residents of the Ledbury Estate were informed they would have to move out due to risks from collapse and fire. In November 2023 residents of Barton House in Bristol were subject to an emergency evacuation because of safety concerns – residents began to move back in March 2024, amid ongoing questions about the process as well as outcomes for residents.

At the time of the evacuation, I was working on a research project exploring the emotions of housing safety problems, including the collapse of Ronan Point and the events at Ledbury Estate. As well as structural and fire safety concerns, what linked Ledbury Estate and Barton House was the uncertainty and ‘not knowing’ that residents were living through during a moment of crisis, and the many questions that needed answers in order for day-to-day life to continue in the face of significant disruption.

Working with Tower Blocks UK, we started thinking about the key questions that tenants may have in the event of an emergency – or more planned – evacuation from their home. We found variation in the assistance that is offered to tenants in different places and with different landlords. This has resulted in a checklist of questions and examples of practice that we hope will: 1) enable tenants to get answers to a number of common, key issues; 2) demonstrate the potential for good / better practice in managing emergency and planned moves. 

A new regime for the regulation of high-rise buildings came into force in 2022 in England. As part of this, accountable persons for high-rise buildings must submit a safety case report to the Building Safety Regulator. Understanding the risk of fire spread or structural failure may require investigations or surveys to be carried out, particularly if there are limited records. Whilst we hope that evacuations will remain an infrequent occurrence, it is possible that such scrutiny may highlight potential safety concerns, impacting on residents living in such buildings. - Jenny Preece, Researcher, UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Excellence.

“Tower Blocks UK are pleased to have collaborated with Sheffield University on this project to provide residents with essential information and case studies, empowering them to navigate their rights and choices during evacuations prompted by safety issues. Drawing from our own experience of being evacuated from a dangerous tower block, we considered the uncertainties and questions that residents might have in similar situations and this inspired us to create this informative resource. As the building safety crisis continues – safeguarding the rights of tenants and residents remains crucial. We hope that this fact sheet will offer some reassurance and guidance during periods of decant or evacuation”


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