Falkirk Council had to force entry to 1300 homes to fit smoke alarms

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Falkirk Council had to use forced entry for 1300 homes to fit interlinked smoke alarms in all of the district’s council houses, causing it to breach quality standards.

Fitting the new smoke alarms is now a legal requirement for landlords but the council found that many tenants were unwilling to allow access.

Just 18 per cent of tenants responded to an initial letter and a forced access programme started in June.

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By the end of August, 603 were outstanding and the council is on target to have all interlinked smoke alarms fitted by the end of October.

Falkirk Council had to force entry to1300 homes to fit smoke alarm. Pic: ContributedFalkirk Council had to force entry to1300 homes to fit smoke alarm. Pic: Contributed
Falkirk Council had to force entry to1300 homes to fit smoke alarm. Pic: Contributed

A report to Falkirk Council’s executive on Tuesday stated: “Despite repeated attempts to engage with households, access to properties remained the biggest issue.

“Forced entries, to fit the interlinked smoke alarms, started in June 2023. This led to significant reductions in the number of properties still requiring interlink smoke alarms.”

The council says that the delays in fitting the interlinked alarms was a significant reason for just 70 per cent of council properties meeting the Scottish Housing Quality Standard in 2022/23.

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The lapses were highlighted in the council’s Annual Assurance Statement, which looks for evidence that the council is meeting all regulatory requirements and standards.

The statement also highlighted that the council was also unable to carry out nine annual gas safety checks out of nearly 14,000, for 2022/23.

According to the report, five of these were put on hold due to Covid in the household, one because of a bereavement within the household and the remaining three because of an admin issue.

The other major issue facing the council in terms of the regulator is the rising numbers of homeless applications and limited temporary accommodation to offer people in that situation.

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This led to 32 breaches of the Unsuitable Accommodation Order in 2022/23, with 28 further breaches for the first quarter of this year.

The report added: “Regrettably, we also had three instances where we were unable to make any offer of accommodation, in late May/early June 2023.

“We continue to look at alternative forms of accommodation to allow us to prevent this situation happening again in the future, so we can continue to meet our duty to provide temporary accommodation to those who need it.”

Councillors heard that an action plan is now in place to address the problem although it remains a difficult issue.

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The council must now submit the annual assurance statement to the Regulator by October 31.

In the report, officers reassured councillors that the council “expects to return to full compliance in 2024”.