Fire Safety

Vulnerable Tenants: An Overview For Social Housing

A vulnerable tenant is defined in BS 5839-6: 2013 as:

“A person aged 18 or over who is, or may be, in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness, and who is or may unable to take care of himself or herself against significant harm or exploitation.”

Legislation dictates that providers of social housing have a heightened responsibility to ensure the safety and well being of such individuals, irrespective of whether the building they reside in is a new or pre-existing dwelling. For this reason, it is crucial that M&E contractors are fully aware of the measures that can be put in place to provide high levels of fire and CO protection for vulnerable tenants.

With Age UK predicting that the number of those aged 65 and over will rise to over 16 million by 2033 (an increase of over 40%), a growing elderly population means an increase in vulnerable tenants. With age can come infirmity, with key motor functions or senses impacted, or more serious afflictions such as the onset of dementia – all of which can have a serious impact on an individual’s ability to feel safe in their own homes.

However, we should be aware that disabled individuals are also included in the category of vulnerable tenants, regardless of their age.

In short, a vulnerable tenant is any person whose ability to be safe at home is impaired. Should they reside in social housing, it is the responsibility of the social housing provider to mitigate or eliminate these risks to the best of their ability.

BS 5839: Pt.6

BS 5839-6:2013 (also known as BS 5839: Pt. 6) is the key standard for fire detection in domestic premises, and outlines best practice procedure for compliance with legislation. It applies to both new and existing housing, and should be considered as the authority for social housing providers. To learn more about BS 5839-6:2013 and surrounding legislation regarding fire safety, download our free eBook by clicking the link below.

Using the guidance provided in BS 5839: Pt.6 we’ve compiled a list of cost-effective and, most importantly, effective measures that you can put in place to guarantee compliance with legislation and adequate safety measurements in the homes of vulnerable tenants.

For elderly tenants

As we age, a variety of illnesses or infirmities can occur. We may find our physical ability diminishing, we may forget things on a more regular basis, or we may not be able to communicate quite as we’re used to. The list of changes that can occur as we grow older is practically endless – though at the same time, it’s also possible that many individuals will live well into old age hardly feeling the impact at all.

Due to this uncertainty, when we’re providing housing for elderly tenants we must be extra vigilant to cover all bases. It can be tempting to provide only a basic level of security whilst the individuals seem relatively capable, however, there are no certainties and often changes can occur without people even noticing. For that reason, we would recommend installing a range of safety appliances. To find out what they are, read our in-depth blog post about providing social housing for elderly tenants here.

For tenants with dementia

The effects of dementia on an individual can be truly devastating. This debilitating illness impacts the brain as much as the body, inhibiting an individual’s judgement, sense of time and place, behaviour, physical ability and senses – all of which can lead to people affected with dementia not being safe in their own homes.

With that said, many of those with dementia do want to live independently as long as possible, and will often relocate to social housing in order to make this possible. Independent living is still entirely possible for many with dementia, but it’s imperative that providers of social housing have taken steps to identify, understand and mitigate risk. To find out more about decreasing the risk in the homes of those living with dementia, click here.

For disabled tenants

Under the Equality Act of 2010, providers of social housing have a responsibility to not place any residents with a disability under unfair disadvantage. ‘Disability’ is a broad and wide-reaching term which encompasses a variety of ailments, which is why – as with homes for the elderly – it’s crucial that housing providers cover as many bases as possible when installing safety devices.

If you’d like to find out more about protecting disabled tenants in the home, click here to read our blog post on the issue.

We provide in depth recommendations on products that can be installed at relatively low cost, informed by the latest legislation.

FireAngel products are always intended to make it easier for our customers to comply with government legislation, which is why we’ve become industry experts in understanding legislation inside out. To find out more about recent legislation changes, and what they mean for fire safety in the home, download our free eBook below. Simply click the link!