Inner room, escape window, exit from enclosed courtyard

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Hi, I'm a landlord in the London Borough of Greenwich where they are currently enacting Additional Licensing and I have an issue with an "inner room".

The flat is a first-floor Victorian 4-bedroom and this was how it was built, all the flats on this road are the same. The rear bedroom is off a hallway that is off the large sit-in kitchen and is therefore an inner-room. It is a shared house rented to friends under a single AST, not a bedsit.

The room meets the criteria for an escape window - size and shape of window opening, height of opening from floor, height of floor to ground outside, fire door to bedroom, mains-wired, interlinked detector and alarm in hall outside the door - so far so good.

But the garden (belonging to the downstairs neighbour) is small - there is one small corner where the garden is "at least as deep as the building is high" - in reality it a 25cm square, so whilst meeting the exact wording of the LACORS guidance, is not ideal and the Local Authority are not accepting it.

The wall to the next-door neighbours garden is solid brick and 8ft tall and I have proposed (in agreement with my downstairs neighbour) to bolt a permanent fixed ladder to this wall to allow egress from the escape garden into the next-door neighbours garden which is much larger and further away. 

The Local Authority say they don't like this and won't accept it, but are unable to detail exactly why they don't like it and why it is not acceptable (at one point mentioning "what if it was snowing" on the phone - as if climbing an 8ft ladder to get away from a fire is not reasonable in snowy conditions). If they would provide a referral to some guidance on why they don't like it I could then try and find another solution (in conjunction with my downstairs neighbour) that would suit them.

Do you have any information on what is an acceptable exit mechanism from an enclosed rear garden for the purposes of LACORS and an escape window/inner room?

I have rented this place out for 20 years and had no bother until the expansion of Additional Licensing in the borough - it was always EIC, EPC, Gas safe, class D fire/smoke, fire blanket/fire extinguisher etc and the Local Authority don't seem to want to work with me to find a solution to this, just make me evict a tenant and reduce my business by 25%.

Thanks in advance

Andrew

06/08/2018 15:30

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