In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, a council is to serve an injunction on one of its leaseholders to gain access to a property and address potential fire hazards.

The case centres on the resident denying the council access to her flat to change a uPVC door, which is made of highly combustible material.

According to the council, the door would not contain a fire and could prevent others using the escape route.

The council, as freeholder, has responsibility to carry out fire precaution works and ensure blocks of flats can be safely evacuated where necessary,

It took the matter, which concerned a flat in Selhurst, to Croydon County Court to apply for an order granting access to carry out the necessary work.

This case will now serve as a “test case” which will enable the council and others, to crack down on instances where leaseholders are not complying with access requests such as this.

Councillor Alison Butler, cabinet member for homes and regeneration, said: “Whereas we always do our best to work with leaseholders, it is vital they give us access to carry out work that we are required to do by law.

“This is about being able to enforce the law to make people safe. Taking this matter to court was always going to be a last resort, but unfortunately we were left with no choice.

“We believe this is the first case of its kind, and a vitally important one at that. It means we will be able to use this case as an example to others who might choose to deny the council access to address any fire hazards.

“The precedent set by this case could potentially save lives.”