Kirklees Council has pledged to cover the cost of making safety improvements to its high-rise and low-rise buildings to ensure the safety of all tenants and leaseholders.

The council needs to replace 11,447 fire doors across 870 properties at a cost of between £500 and £1,200 per door in a scheme expected to cost £90 million.

Council chiefs had been intending to charge leaseholders – those living in council blocks who have bought their own homes – but have now changed their mind.

Just 48 hours before the about-turn was announced, the council’s director of housing Naz Parkar told a meeting of Cabinet that leaseholders would have to pay.

He said the council would be “very supportive” and if leaseholders were struggling to pay the council would provide loans with a “very affordable repayment plan.” Now the council says it will foot the bill.

Under the terms of leaseholder agreements, private leaseholders who purchase properties in council-owned buildings have full responsibility for the cost of repairing, maintaining and improving their properties.

Following extensive engagement with tenants and residents, the council has renewed its commitment to safety and pledged to cover the cost of replacing all fire doors for tenant and leaseholder homes alike.

Clr Cathy Scott

Clr Cathy Scott, Cabinet member housing and democracy, said: “We have widely engaged with our tenants and residents, and have listened to concerns from private leaseholders about how they can afford to pay for these necessary safety upgrades to their properties.

“Our main priority is ensuring everyone living in our buildings and using our communal areas is safe in the event of a fire. We are committed to ensuring all safety improvement works can be carried out to the highest standards and want to remove any financial barriers for tenants and leaseholders.

“Safety should not be a luxury, and as such we will be covering the cost of replacing fire doors in all our high-rise and low-rise blocks to ensure safety for all.”