Council’s Fire Insurance under Scrutiny and Leaseholders Ignored.


Zurich Municipal (ZM) provides insurance cover for Folkestone & Hythe District Council’s housing stock.  It would appear the Council failed to inform ZM about the Ross House Fire Safety Order handed down by Kent Fire Rescue on the 25th Nov 2019; which we blogged about earlier this month.

ZM takes matters of this nature very seriously. We understand they are currently investigating the position with the Council. It is likely for this matter to take a little while to understand the cause and resolution, but as we understand ZM has made it a high priority matter.

It would appear that the Council has also failed to inform ZM about the Regulator-of-Social-Housing notice handed down on Sept 11, 2019; which states:

  • In respect of fire safety, Folkestone & Hythe DC has a statutory duty under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, to regularly assess the risk of fire in properties where it has responsibility for maintenance. Having identified the hazards and people at risk, it is also required to take precautions to prevent the risk of fire. The regulator has learned that up until mid-2019, Folkestone & Hythe DC had around 500 outstanding actions arising from Fire Risk Assessments. Some of the actions had been outstanding for a significant period of time.

Was this deliberate or accidental? We’ll leave you to mull that over.

Now if you are a Council tenant you’ve no need to worry as the council can effectively ’self insure’ – ie take on the financial obligations/liabilities of an insurance policy.

However, if you are a leaseholder of a Council property this might affect you if there is an obligation on the council to insure under the lease. So you’ll need to check your lease.

We understand Council leaseholders have exercised their right under section 22 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to inspect documents relating to their service charges. Service charge payers (leaseholders) have written to their landlord – Folkestone & Hythe District Council –  requiring the landlord to allow access to and inspection of the accounts, receipts and any other documents relevant to the service charge information in the summary and to provide facilities for them to be copied. However, as we understand the Council has never responded to the requests made by leaseholders and Cllrs are doing little if anything to help them enforce their rights.

Louie Burns – a local and knowledgeable lad – has produced an excellent guide for leaseholders which is well worth purchasing. It sets out simply and precisely what leaseholder rights are in matters set out in the paragraph above.

None of the above comes as a surprise to the Shepwayvox Team, nor you possibly, as the shambles which is our Council stumbles through crisis after crisis.

The Shepwayvox Team

The Velvet Voices of Dissent

(RIP Terry Jones 1942 – 2020)

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1 Comment on Council’s Fire Insurance under Scrutiny and Leaseholders Ignored.

  1. doggerbank56 // January 27, 2020 at 11:14 // Reply

    It may be of assistance to Councillors to consult chapter 7 of “Bird’s Modern Insurance Law.” The council officials responsible for the insurance policy owe the insurer a duty of utmost good faith when disclosing information that may have a material effect on the cover being provided. They may also wish to examine the Insurance Act 2015 which modified this strict requirement and replaced it with a new requirement for the insured party to provide the insurer with a “fair presentation” of the risks they will be underwriting. Zurich could refer to Section 8 and Schedule 1 of the Act if it decides to seek remedies from the Council for non-disclosure.

    If the Council are refusing to respond to the leaseholders requests could this because they have lost the records and don’t want to admit it? I wonder if a departing employee decided to destroy them as a thank you for being made redundant. On the other hand it could be that they have the records but, are being deliberately obstructive. Councillors need to start asking some hard questions of the Council’s senior managers.

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