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Do I have a duty of care for neighbour's evacuation?

Guest Stewm

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I am having a problem understanding duty of care, as we are being told the only duty of care is to yourself when the alarm goes of in the sheltered housing where I live. There is someone next door, who could need to be told that the alarm is going off and to evacuate, however, the housing association has said don't bother her, just look after yourself. Is this procedure correct?

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In sheltered housing the tenants are usually able to look after themselves, are active and are afforded a degree of independence therefore should be able to evacuate the premises in the event of a fire without assistance. If any of the tenants are unable to do this then you have to ask the question are they suited to sheltered housing maybe they should be in a residential care home.

Duty of care is a legal matter and in my opinion providing the housing association has carry out their legal duties then they have met their duty of care but this is a solicitors field of expertise not mine.

As far as fire safety is concerned, have they carried out fire risk assessment of the common areas which is suitable and sufficient.

Why would your neighbour need to be told that the alarm is going off, because there could be a solution to this problem.

What is the layout of the accommodation to determine if there are common areas?

There are many questions that need to be asked, even a physical survey to determine if the fire safety measures are satisfactory sorry I cannot be more definitive.

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I have a response from a couple of colleagues which deals more with the duty of care.

In this instance the householder has no duty of care to alert the neighbour and the housing provider is correct. A major problem would arise if the housing provider had told the householder to alert the neighbour, in which case if anything happened to the householder whilst they were carrying out this function the housing provider could be subject to litigation. What training did the householder receive to ensure they were safe to carry out this function etc?

However the housing provider may have a duty of care to do more if they have housed an individual in premises that are unsuitable. If there was a stay put policy then probably it would be ok but if the person has been housed from the outset in premises which have some shortcomings and require a full evacuation strategy and that person cannot get out then I think the housing provider may have a duty to provide other measures. Difficult one, as if the person's health and mobility have declined since being housed there it is not reasonable to expect them to be rehoused for reasons of fire safety- is it?

Having said the housing provider is correct, this would not prevent the householder alerting the neighbour if they so desired as a 'good citizen'.

Do you know if the housing association has a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) for this person?

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