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‘Waking watch’ charges hit Disabled residents

18 August 2021

Shocking numbers of leaseholders are having to invest in ‘waking watch’ schemes in place to protect Disabled residents who cannot self-evacuate in the event of fire.

A waking watch is when a person patrols all floors of a building to give warning in case of fire. Since the Grenfell Tower fire, waking watches are regularly used in buildings that are high risk, with costs paid by leaseholders.

In some buildings this is as much as £11,000 a month, so many blocks are lobbying for them to be withdrawn but are finding they cannot get permission if there is a resident in the building who is considered to be at risk.

Claddag, the Disabled leaseholders group said: “As leaseholders ourselves, we share the enormous financial and emotional pressure placed on us by the building safety crisis. The cost of requirements like waking watch is financially damaging for us all, disabled or otherwise.

“1 in 5 of us are disabled so it is highly likely that at least one disabled person lives in every block of flats around the country. Does this mean that waking watch is needed in every general needs housing development in the UK? Clearly not. So this haphazard and misguided advice needs to stop.

“One of our key asks is for the Government to ensure that any costs associated with a disabled person’s safety are taken out of the hands of leaseholders and should be centrally funded. We fear resentment and hostility towards individuals, blamed for additional costs in the service charge.”

Claddag and Disability Rights UK, have been campaigning for Disabled people who live in flats to have personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEPs). However, we do not believe that imposing waking watch is the correct approach.

This week, Claddag has published advice with expert input to help leaseholders to challenge refusals to remove or reduce waking watch due to the presence of a person who cannot self-evacuate.