Hello, My partner and I own a council flat which we bought privately (ie not as a right to buy) in 2002. At that time there was, and still is, a gate that protects the property. As the flat is at the end of a corridor (which is an outside balcony) this does not obstruct the entrance to any other flats. One of the reasons why I like the flat is that it was secure becasue of this gate, an important feature for me as I have been the victim of numerous break-ins in London, plus it provided a place to keep bikes safely. The council (represented by an ALMO Hackney Homes) have now informed us that we must remove it within 28 days as it is a fire risk. I realise there are some risks with a gate but these have to be balance against security. We do not want to remove the gate. What are our rights? Thanks.
Province/Country relating to question : London
This is my first recourse
Have you received a formal letter from the Council asking you to remove the fence on the basis that it is a fire risk?
Has this letter come from the Planning Department?
I look forward to hearng from you
I recieved a letter from Hackney Homes th ALMO who work in partnership with Hackney Council. It states that in a recent inspection they noticed the gate and that it is a 'major fire hazzard' which I would dispute as it is covering the means of access and/or exit to the property. They also said that permissions for any additions or alterations require approval in advance, but this gate was there before we purchased and I think had been there some years as it was clearly not new when we moved in, so it has been there for certaily the 10 years since we owned the property and probably a good deal longer.
Thanks for your reply.
On the basis that the gate has been there for 10 years or more, the COuncil can't use the excuse that you needed permission to erect it.
However, if it is a fire hazard, you will be under a duty to remove it, I'm afraid.
Whether it is indeed a fire hazard is open for argument, and you should approach your local Fire brigade for their views. If they feel that it is not a fire hazard you can use this in your defence against the Council. If they feel it is a fire hazard I'm afraid you will have no alternative but to remove it.
I hope this answers your question.
Do I not have some legal right becasue the gate was there before we moved in and was over 10 years ago? I was hoping for a bit more of a detailed reply to argue this as I know that there are security gates across people's doors in other locations, they can't all be illegal
Hi, under Planning law you have a right for the gate to remain but this is overriden by health and safety I'm afraid. So, even though the gate has been there for years, if it is deemed a fire hazard the Council have the power to ask you to remove it and if you do not, they can remove it themselves.
Do they need to request this from me by a formal legla process?
As regards X XXXXX argument, health and safety issues come down to the individual case, and the deciding factor is what the fire brigade say. I'm afraid I can't give you an opinion as to whether it is a fire hazard or not- that has to be left to the "experts" who are the fire brigade.
Hi if they want you to remove the gate, they have to serve you with a formal Notice and if you then do not remove the gate within the specified time (normally 21 days) they have the right to remove it themselves.
I want to buy some time to do some research on this could you tell me whether they need to go down a legal process to get me to remove the gate - should they send a formal letter from the planning office or something?
I suggest that you get in touch with the fire brigade and hopefully they will come down on your side.
what consitutes formal notice?
They need only serve Notice by way of a letter. Please feel free to get your local newspaper/ Councillor involved if the Fire brigade say it is not a fire hazard.
LLB(HONS) 15 years of experience in dealing with Conveyancing and Property Law
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