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RENTED HOMES: THE FATAL LOOPHOLE

PUBLISHED: 11:28 11 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:31 03 March 2010

HUNDREDS of people across Suffolk could be living in bedsits, shared houses and flats with no way of escape if fire suddenly strikes. That is of little comfort to the families of Will Stokes and Rob Giles, the two teenagers who were killed when a blaze ripped through their room in a house in Felixstowe converted to flatlets without the need for planning permission.

HUNDREDS of people across Suffolk could be living in bedsits, shared houses and flats with no way of escape if fire suddenly strikes.

That is of little comfort to the families of Will Stokes and Rob Giles, the two teenagers who were killed when a blaze ripped through their room in a house in Felixstowe converted to flatlets without the need for planning permission.

Tonight The Evening Star says "Never Again" should this be allowed to happen.

It is time for the government to undertake a sensible review of houses in multiple occupation and to find a system so that all such properties can be registered and decisions made on whether they need fire precautions.

Everyone accepts it is not an easy issue to deal with.

But the authorities must investigate what more can be done to protect people living in these buildings – many of them young people, as Will and Rob were, starting out on life, experiencing their first taste of freedom and independence.

The Evening Star has discovered that many landlords or property owners do not take basic fire precautions... and do not have to do so by law.

It is a glaring loophole which can have grave and serious consequences and something must be done to put an end to this situation.

Those properties which do require permission have the advantage that they must have fire-resistant walls and doors and electronic alarms. Those which do not rely on their landlord to install them if he wishes.

Tonight the Evening Star investigates the situation in a special report on the way the law operates at present.

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