Important update: fire safety responsibilities

In response to recent online complaints regarding information sent to council housing tenants, leaseholders and shared owners advising them of their fire safety responsibilities, we have provided further explanation about our approach.

The risks

As a landlord, the safety of our tenants, leaseholders and shared owners is essential and important to us.

Recent fire risk assessments have identified a significant number of fire safety risks that must urgently be addressed. Many of these risks relate to hazards in communal areas created by inappropriately stored personal items. 

To ensure the latest fire safety advice is followed, and risks are addressed in a consistent manner that is fair to all council tenants, leaseholders and shared owners, we have introduced ‘sterile areas’. This means personal items must not be stored in communal areas. In addition, certain items should also not be stored on private balconies. This approach is not uncommon and is proven to be effective in ensuring such risks are managed.

Risks are real 

Following a substantial fire in a council-owned property, Surrey Fire and Rescue advised us the fire spread rapidly largely due to the building’s balconies excessively loaded with personal combustible items. 

The fire directly affected six households. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt, but the consequences could have been much worse. 

We have a responsibility to mitigate the risks and ensure this this type of incident does not happen again.   

Tenant, leaseholder and shared owner responsibilities

We are committed to supporting Woking Borough Council housing tenants, leaseholders and shared owners observe their responsibilities. 

Our housing team, who will be able to assist with any concerns, will soon begin regular inspections of council-owned and leased properties to ensure communal areas and private balconies are clear of personal items.  

We must emphasise these measures are to safeguard your safety. We have no intention of changing our approach to this very important matter.

Abuse will not be tolerated

Our housing team and contractors are here to support and assist you. Abuse of our officers, either on social media or in person, will not be tolerated. 

Should our staff receive any form of abuse, we will take appropriate action in accordance with your tenancy agreement or any other avenues that are deemed appropriate or necessary.

Contact us

We hope this information provides you with the explanation necessary to assist in meeting your fire safety responsibilities. 

If you have any further questions or queries about your responsibilities as a council housing tenant, please email