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In the light of the tragic fires at Lakanal House and Grenfell Tower, many local authorities have commenced major fire safety works schemes in tower blocks. One common problem that has been encountered is that leases granted under the Right to Buy rarely make express provision for rights of access to install sprinklers or make similar fire safety improvements.

In Oxford City Council v Dr Piechnik D70OX028, Mr Recorder Berkley QC held that, because a local authority could insist on access for these purposes when the flat was let on a secure tenancy (relying on McAuley v Bristol CC [1992] QB 134 and Lee v Leeds CC [2002] 1 WLR 1488), Sch.6, para.2(2)(b), Housing Act 1985 meant that there was an implied right of access in a RTB lease. Although only a county court case, this is likely to be of particular interest to all local authorities.

Justin Bates represented Oxford City Council.

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