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Local Government Ombudsman report - advice needed!


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We have a lot of small 2 storey flats built by the council in the 30's most of them are still council owned and run.

 

Round the back of some of these flats is an old print works owned by local company Jarrolds, they basically want to redevelop it I dont know whether theyre doing it or they have just sold it on (presumably the latter).

 

The latest info is they now want to demolish a row of the flats to build a hotel etc in, all the flats are occupied and some have been bought under RTB.

 

There is a chronic low cost housing shortage in norwich and with 1 bed flat rent being over £400 and all new developments selling for over £150,000 (flats again) its crazy I cannot see how the council can even entertain this idea.

 

Also the flats are in a "conservation area" of the city councils making and sit on the inner ring road so are highly visible.

 

If you now look at the housing exchange website nearly every resident is desperately trying to get a homeswap (which no one is going to do obviously).

 

We live a short hop up the road in similar flats and we're horrified at the council and Jarrolds ideas is there anything we can help these people do to fight this?

 

Theres a little info on the ideas here:

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/norfolk/5056066.stm

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The full story from the EDP is that they want to demolish them redevelop the area and then build 60 low cost housing units for housing association BUT if you can trust the council that will happen. There was supposed to be a 10% low cost housing quota on all new builds and the council never enforced it so i'll put money on them not building these new homes, besides who wants their huge hotel etc with housing association homes on the same site, no developer is gonna want that.

 

Oh and also I found this quote interesting, we have been pushing for double glazing, new bathrooms and kitchens for our flats (theyre the same age in the same area) and been told we are at the back of the queue to be done in over 3 years time (the areas seen by the tourists get first go, obviously despite the fact theyre decades newer).

 

Anyway bearing in mind our flats are the same age have the same kitchens, bathrooms and windows the council have been quoted as saying

 

Kris Reeves, the city council's acting head of strategic housing, said the existing properties failed the decent homes standard and would cost between £500,000 and £750,000 to bring up to scratch.

 

"That's just the kitchens and bathrooms," she said. "They also need their windows replacing. The 60 affordable units will be of a much higher standard and also be bigger."

 

So if they say that about those flats how can they say ours are ok for another 3/4 years?

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Ok ive been thinking so far the council have admitted that the flats built in this area in the 1930's are below standard and need new bathrooms, kitchens and double glazing.

 

existing properties failed the decent homes standard

 

Is it worth getting a few tenants together and taking the council to small claims court over getting this work done or am I barking up the wrong tree here?

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Interesting my own thoughts are :-

 

If they demolishing but not building the new flats until some time after then where are the existing tenants supposed to live in the mean time?

 

Why are councils not enforcing low cost quotas? (same happens here)

 

Why are councils repeatedly getting rid of council houses and flats when their is major housing shortages?

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its my understanding that they have yo rehouse you while they build the new homes

I QUESTION THEREFORE I AM!! [sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]

 

Unfortunately i'm not an expert in any given field legally and my advice and that of the Consumer Action Group and the Bank Action Group is given without prejudice and without liability so please if in any doubt whatsoever seek help from an insured qualified professional. Contents of my posts are purely my own personal opinions and not condoned or endorsed in any way, shape or form by CAG. Thank you! :p

 

 

I have been smoke-free for 4yrs

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They are going to rehouse (on top of the £4500 pay off) but they will get to choose where they want to go and they can choose to come back and live in one of the new properties once they are built.

 

worked out the figures yesterday

 

50 existing properties

 

60 new ones to be built

 

Net gain 10 new homes

 

140 additional properties to be built to be sold at commercial rates (£200,000+)

 

Lets see riverside location, 5 mins walk to major employers, 5 mins to city centre, 2 mins from nice riverside walks and 10 mins from Riverside leisure development (pubs, cinema, bowling alley etc) I reckon 3 bed house £250,000 minimum that'll be nice for some speculative landlord or londoner to buy up with a big fat chunk built on the council land :(

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  • 2 weeks later...

We're having some problems with our council with repairs to our home.

 

Several months ago we reported our bathroom ceiling was damp and the artex was peeling off along with some other issues in the kitchen. An inspector came out wrote everything down then several weeks later a builder came out with give us some extra worktop and an extra cupboard in the kitchen.

 

This builder then didnt repair the extractor fan in the kitchen that was on his job sheet, he said he didnt know anything about it then Cheryl pointed it out to him on his sheet written in his own handwriting, he said "Oh yeah" then left anyway, ffs :(

 

So after 2 months of calling etc to the council our bathroom ceiling has black fluff growing on it, the artexing is peeling off and we're getting nowhere. I got Charles Clarke involved (our MP) and he's been really good writing to the council and getting back to us every week but we still dont seem to be getting anywhere.

 

I got a letter from him that the council had sent to him about us and it said that it would be fixed in 5 working days the letter was dated 12th June, would you like to guess whether it got done or not? lol

 

They also had an appointment to come fix a vent in our living room window (its for a gas appliance) its broken so you could pull it out and stick your arm through and open the window, they were due to fix on 12th June between 8am and 1pm Cheryl stayed in all day and no one called or knocked she's self employed so lost £20/hour that half day.

 

So now I am writing a letter to the acting director of housing stating that they have a further 7 working days to fix it or I will get it fixed at my own cost and then take them to court for the cost of the repairs.

 

Do you think this is reasonable?

 

I need this done as Cheryl is 8 months pregnant and obviously cant have builders in with a newborn baby.

 

Also the last time I spoke to them they said they needed to get an assesor out as there may be asbestos in the ceiling material - so presumably as this is falling down its ok that we are breathing this in? For the last month Cheryl has had Bronchitis and I have had a chest infection - coincidence?

 

Anyways advice/suggestions etc welcomed as apart from above I am at a loss of what to do next.

 

On a side note we also complained that its impossible to call them (all residents call a single number for many different things) they stated to Mr Clarke that the avg waiting time is under a minute - called today took 15 mins of calling getting an engaged tone to even get in the queue, then a further 10 mins on hold

 

Less than 1 minute by bottom!!

 

Oh we also had many other faults that we couldnt be bothered with till now (understandably the amount of hassle involved) but now im going to hit them with the lot.

 

I'll post pics later showing the problems

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Right here's the pics

 

1. Broken Vent that was supposed to be replaced 12th June (weve tried to buy one to do ourselves but cant get them theyre all the wrong size)

1.jpg

 

 

2. Bathroom ceiling

 

2.jpg

3.jpg

4.jpg

 

3. Bathroom wall

 

5.jpg

 

4. Notice the hole cut into the wall so they could bodge fit the cistern

6.jpg

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6. Note the shabby sink fitted to the wall

8.jpg

 

7. Damp wall in living room, that wall isnt actually a wall its plywood painted to look like a wall

9.jpg

10.jpg

 

8. Inside above cupboard

11.jpg

 

9. The best bit check out the window we havent been able to open this window for 3 years, the contractor came out before and said they wouldnt fix it

12.jpg

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Guest Lueeze

OH MI GOD!!!

 

How can you live like that!?

 

Is it a council house? If so I would be going along to the Council Offices and request rehoming if they refuse to do anything, they have a duty of care if you are living in their property. Infact lots of council house's Here have had their windows replaced central heating installed ect to keep them up to date.

 

I would also email them with these pictures and make a formal complaint.

 

Do you have kids?

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We've made formal complaints hence why I got xx involved. Its a council flat and get this they have admitted that a similar block over the road

 

"Fails the decent homes standard and they need £500-750,000 spending on them and thats just bathrooms and kitchens they also need new windows"

 

That was from the director of strategic housing in a local paper about the fact that a developer wants to buy the land the flats are on knock them down and build 200 homes on there inc a hotel and offices and replace them with 60 housing association homes instead.

 

So we said well if those ones are knackered then ours was built the same year to the same style with the same windows/bathrooms and kitchens. Also we got a magazine thru the door from the council saying they were spending £15.6 million every year for the foreseeable renovating homes.

 

We asked when we were going to get double glazing etc they said after year 4. the places that have had the money spent on them are ones you can see from the ring road and next to tourist hot spots like the Roman Catholic Cathedral (they were built in the 80's ours was built in the 30's so who needed the money spent first???)

 

It's just crazy isnt it, its like pulling teeth the letter to the acting director of housing goes to City Hall tonight giving them 7 days to get it sorted as once again they havent returned my call this afternoon.

 

We've requested rehoming and been given a big fat ZERO points so beggar all chance of that happening either :(

 

Do you think I should take them to small claims court for £5000 to force them to do new windows/bathroom etc? lol

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Guest Lueeze

Hmm Im not sure what you can do now, seems to have hit a dead end.

 

Maybe a solicitor who offers a free 1/2 hour session could help advise? Sorry Im just throwing things up, but do not have any particular trick.

 

When I moved into my house (its private rented through the council) it was infested with flea's, and because I had a mental illness, the manger of the crisis team contacted the council and they offered to move me. I refused because they would have put me in a flat, but things CAN get done if you know who to go to.

 

Im guessing you dont have kids or anything that could be seen as a "special" reason?

 

I would go in and demand to see the Housing Manager, they get paid alot for doing NOT alot!

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See 1st part baby due in 4 weeks lol ;)

 

I think the only way out at the moment is Local Government Ombudsman but I dont even know if they will get involved as they are more for if a decision has gone against you rather than this kinda thing (I think)

 

i'll stick my ultimatum letter to City Hall tonight and cc copies to the chief exec and Charles Clarke and see where that gets us

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Guest Lueeze

Right sorry missed that part...

 

Well thats a damn good reason to not be in a house that is damp! Can you not contact your MP again? Mine is very good at follow up's and will persist for me until the situation is sorted. Also stress that your babay is due and you want the work done now and not afterwards!

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Yeah have done we have a weekly correspondance lol

 

I'll email him again tomorrow and send a copy of my letter to the council and see what happens

 

TBH ive been through everything, made the phone calls, sent the letters etc etc etc its just not happening and I feel pretty fed up right now I wish we could afford private rent but we pay £235pcm here for a 2bed flat and a 1bed private rent would be £400 pcm and with Cheryl not going to be working for awhile its just gonna happen.

 

I feel like giving up, feel pretty beaten and frustrated you would get more joy out of trying to knock down a wall using a toothpick.

 

I always thought private landlords were the cowboys

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Thanks its nice to get feedback regardless and I agree they just stuck brand new UPVC windows in properties that were already double glazed (built in the 80's so aluminium style) because you can see them as you drive up to the Roman Cathlolic Cathedral so they look nice whereas in the meantime we suffer with broken sash windows that rattle in the wind.

 

It makes you so cross doesnt it to see all this waster :(

 

They did that with the roofs at our old place (private rent) and half the street that was still social housing got new roofs even though they didnt need them and no one had any leaks etc

 

Madness!!

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Hi all!

 

Rich44,mate this is terrible!

 

However,in my view this is what you should do:

 

1.Find a solicitor that is a specialist in housing & disrepair.Cases for damages/compensation like these can be taken on a no win no fee basis.I know this for a fact because there are solicitors in Birmingham that are willing to do this because I have seen their ads.

 

2.Regarding the repairs themselves a solicitor should be able to take the Council to court and issue an "abatement notice" under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act to compel the council to carry out the repairs.This type of case is dealt with in the Magistrates Court - i.e.failure to comply could lead to fines etc.

 

3.You mention to take the council to the Small Claims this could be possible however to succeed you would need your photos and a report from a surveyor that would highlight the disrepair within your property and the impact of that disrepair on you and your family's health.However,if I remember correctly claims for disrepair that exceeed £1,000 in value cannot be put in the Small Claims - maybe I am mistaken.You need to check the current county court rules.

 

4.The other breaches would clearly be breaches of landlord and tenant act (and not the Environmental Protection Act) obligations on the part of the council - however to compel the council to do this would probably be easier said than done - injunction for specific performance i.e. to make the council carry out the repairs.

 

Finally,I would try and find a good solicitor that is an expert in housing & disrepair and do as I have suggested above.

 

I hope you find this information useful.

 

If you have any questions,just ask.

 

Keep us posted.

 

All the best!

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Ah yes it looks a nice area sadly we have 60 flats here and would you like to guess how many of them have people in with criminal records?

 

supposedly 40 of them!

 

We have an active drug dealer that the police know about and ignore.

A dirty old man who puts cards up for prostitutes and swears at everyone

 

The rest are either mentally unbalanced or on drugs with the small remainder being nice people (like us - well I think so anyway lol)

 

Nightmare4Banks thanks for your advice will have a look round to see about a solicitor and also get the complaint into the LGO too see what they make of it.

 

Thank you all for your comments, there are some nice interior shots of the flat up there now too.

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Cheers m8, the complaint to the LGO has gone in the post today is about 40 pages long as ive sent copies of every letter from the council and everyone else involved lol.

 

Latest from the council:

 

Called yesterday to find out what was happening, put through to xxxxxxx they told me the report had gone back to the council detailing work needed and they just need to raise a job for it.

 

Called council back no details of this report on their system all they have is that someone was coming out to look at it (which was Monday 26th June) so still no progress and 22nd July is looming ever closer ffs :(

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Still no joy here, havent had time to see a solicitor yet as missus is in hospital at the moment being monitored for pre-eclampsia (it never rains...) theyre coming Monday to replace the vent, fix the extractor in the kitchen and the window locks in the nursery but still no news on the ceiling.

 

Im seriously thinking about refusing to pay the rent until its sorted now im so totally fed up with it.

 

Oh and because of the potential pre-eclampsia the baby could be born any day now if necessary so a big WELL DONE to xx City Council for being one of the biggest wastes of F****** space in the country

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Still no joy here, havent had time to see a solicitor yet as missus is in hospital at the moment being monitored for pre-eclampsia (it never rains...) theyre coming Monday to replace the vent, fix the extractor in the kitchen and the window locks in the nursery but still no news on the ceiling.

 

Im seriously thinking about refusing to pay the rent until its sorted now im so totally fed up with it.

 

Oh and because of the potential pre-eclampsia the baby could be born any day now if necessary so a big WELL DONE to Norwich City Council for being one of the biggest wastes of F****** space in the country

 

Seek out a solicitor who practises ih the area of "Housing Disrepair" & who will undertake you case on a "no win no fee" (CFA) basis. As there is a risk to health (your newborn) 21 days after telling the council of your intention ask him to apply to the local magistrates for a "Statutory Nuisance Order". The court can order the following.

1 The necessary work be carried out within a specific timescale.

2 To pay compensation

3 To pay any costs incurred by you in making the complaint.

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Cheers I will try and find one tomorrow but am very short of time to do anything what with looking after the flat and cleaning it and going to the hospital etc but will try as suggested

 

Thanks all for your input

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