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IT IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN DEVELOPERS BUILD NEW AFFORDABLE RENT HOMES TOO FAST, AND HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS RENT THEM OUT TOO QUICKLY!

(24 Posts)
CelineW Sat 11-Feb-17 22:43:51

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF MY FAMILY'S SITUATION?

The summary of the issues I made for a third party to forward to the Local Authority, the HHSRS, on my family behalf:

First of all, the problems with our newly built property malfunctioning amenities and our kitchen (set up in our open living area) are still unresolved, despite two years and three months of complaint.

Our case is shifted from one HA representative to another - who have no clue how * House is set up, maintained and run; no clue what our property looks like since they never entered it. Nonetheless, they imply that they carried and completed the investigation of our complaint. Stage 2 complaint response ref ***. For instance, the fact that they are suggesting our boiler room and ventilation system problems have to be dealt with by their property maintenance contractors demonstrates a lack of knowledge of House. Their property maintenance contractors are responsible for House's communal boiler plant and ventilation system, but not for each property's private boiler/storage room and ventilation system. Furthermore, as part of our complaint, the investigator should have referred the repairs to the right departments to resolved our complaint. Finally, during a November 2015 visit with the developers' surveyor and an HA representative, the agreement was that the alteration works in our kitchen were only suggestions needed to be approved by the contractors, who were employed by the developers to deal with defect repairs before the alterations begin. It was agreed that the surveyor would return with the contractors and an HA representative to reach a final agreement with us before the work starts. I have this in writing alongside all the previous allegations. The visit never happened. Therefore, our landlord never tried to resolve the issue of our kitchen. Instead, our landlord ordered the suggestive alterations to be carried out without knowing if it was possible to be done.

From December 2016, our landlord sent contractors twice into our property to carry out repairs to our kitchen area. They did so without primarily sending in a surveyor. According to the contractors' web page, this company does not deal with 'major' repairs but cosmetic repairs. During the last visit, they sent us a handyman (not a surveyor) alongside their executive assistant and an HA representative with no knowledge of Health and Safety Standards and regulations. They suggested permanently moving our fridge-freezer into our dining area and fit our cooker in its place, instead - close to a corner partition wall and with our kitchen fire door opening onto it. With regards to rerouting the existing electric switches, they had no idea if the work they proposed would be achievable, since they came with no voltage, stud and metal detectors, but decided to go ahead with the work regardless. For health and safety reason I could not permit the work to start. I am aware that kitchen fitted within an open living area have to abide by strict regulations. Plus, I have an under five years old living in the property. I knew my landlord would try to hustle my family in agreeing with substandard alterations to quickly resolved our complaint so I recorded the entire duration of the visit held in January 2017 and I brought in a qualified and experienced carpenter as my witness.

Since then. I have spoken to several professional, who are adamant our kitchen in our open living area is a fire risk hazard:

* Our kitchen fire door opens inwards and onto our fridge freezer (where our landlord wanted our cooker fitted).
* Our kitchen fire door opens inwards and not outwards preventing an easy emergency exit from the open living area kitchen.
* Our electric switches on each side of our cooker top are too close and at risk of heat and water damages.
* Access to the only kitchen electric sockets (toaster, etc.), and switches, on top of our worktop, consist on leaning over our cooker top (risk of burns from cooker top and oven) and sink drainer.
* There is not worktop surface to rest food from the oven/cooker top.

Other issues in our kitchen area that causes risk hazard:

* Our microwave had to be set on a kitchen island (I had to purchase, due to 130 cm worktop surface missing according to the property floor plan and the show flat we visited). An electric extension lead is running from behind our fridge freezer, along our floor to plug in our microwave, which is set with no back wall to lean onto. My three-year-old daughter or I could easily trip over the extension lead while getting access to our fridge freezer, and the microwave would fall off the worktop. There is nowhere in our kitchen to fit our microwave.
* Our only floor unit and drawer can not be open because the developers omitted to allocate the standard 65 cm worktop depth for free-standing appliances and to fit in a corner joint at the junction of our kitchen run where our cooker edge and the floor unit and drawer edge are joining. This floor unit is the designated dishwasher space. However, since the unit door can not be fully opened no dishwasher would fit. Furthermore, doors from kitchen equipment should not obstruct one another.
* Our only 60 cm worktop, where we can put our dirty dishes and washing bowl for rinsing dishes, has electrical switches above it. Water can easily splash on them, and they are 20 cm horizontally away from the sink edge. Our microwave used to be on that worktop, but it consisted of having an electrical extension lead running from the worktop on the left-hand side of the sink, and behind the sink, to plug the microwave in.

Other issues with our boiler room that causes health and safety hazard:

* The temperature in our boiler room reaches 30C + in the winter and 40C + in the summer. The heat travels through our hallway flooring. In the summer, our property reaches minimum 25C at night (with windows open and cooling machines and ionisers turned on 24 hours) because our property's tall aluminium windows are south facing. The heat emanating from the windows radiates towards our hallway and is met by the heat emanating from our boiler room which is situated at the centre of our property. Consequently, our property is turned into a living toaster which is affecting the health of my three-year-old child and myself. Letters from GPs and Health Visitors were provided to support the allegation.
* Our ventilation system is not working. The wrong contractors were sent in to fix the issue last year. The covers of our ventilation box and our ceiling are still laying on top of our immersion tank, as we were assured the right contractors would come in.
* Our central heating system needs pressure added on a regular basis.

Other hazard issues in our bathroom:

* Some fluffy black material is visible from the ventilation duct. The duct can not be fully open.
* Our ceiling light is malfunctioning because the pull string was fitted too close to the corner of two walls. The pull string can not be pulled down because our knuckles touch the door frame instead it has to be pulled outward away from the walls' corner.
* A large 'gingham like' rust stain is spreading under our lino flooring, just below and away from our radiator, suggesting a leak in the central heating pipes intertwined with the concrete foundation flooring and the cast iron support bars. It could explain why all our radiators need constant bleeding and pressure adding, resulting in having to lift up their covers regularly and straining myself, as well as damaging the radiator covers and the walls. As a result, the fittings on the plasterboard are now loose, and the radiator covers could fall on my child, me and visitors.

Other hazardous issues in our property:

* To deal with the extreme heat emanating from our boiler room and the lack of ventilation in our bathroom (none of those rooms has windows), our landlord suggested having both room's doors open twenty-four hours. However, those doors open outwards in our hallway and front our bedroom doors. Furthermore, the bathroom door and the boiler room door are fitted in opposite ways - they touch each other when open. Meaning, to permit a safe walkway in our hallway only one door can be fully opened since it will touch the other room's closed door. Vice versa. Furthermore, a boiler/storage/electric fuse box room is not a safe environment for an under five years old child - this door should be closed.

One defect which is inconvenient:

* Our broadband sockets supplied by our landlord do not work.

Because of the extent of the issues in our property, chances are I am omitting something.

Our property is a one off. There is no property laid out the same way as ours in House. * House contains twenty-one social housing properties. It is understood that our property is the sole property in House with so many amenities and defects causing health and safety concern.

JoJoSM2 Sat 11-Feb-17 23:00:34

Is any of this not in line with building regulations? Those would be
reasonable things to complain about. But complaining about things like 'I plugged in an extension lead and I could trip over it' is ridiculous.

user1484830599 Sat 11-Feb-17 23:02:31

I can tell that you are upset, but I have tried to read your post and I really can't work out what your issue is? Please can you summarise in a second post for us?

user1484830599 Sat 11-Feb-17 23:03:36

Have you followed your HA's complaints procedure? You really need to escalate your complaint to the highest level now.

CelineW Sat 11-Feb-17 23:21:02

@ JoJoSM2 Thank you for your reply. If there were no problem with regulations, then they would not have been meetings with developers, surveyors and landlord. Nor would the Local MP and three local councillors be involved. As for the extension lead running on the floor. Our kitchen is L-shaped in a rectangular open living area. There is nowhere to put our microwave and no other electric socket than behind the fridge freezer. Our kitchen is not similar to the show flat kitchen we were given access to before the signing of our contract, nor it is similar to its floor plan.
Please check my previous post: Anyone with professional knowledge about electrical switches and sockets in open living area kitchen? 20:00 for photos

CelineW Sat 11-Feb-17 23:34:34

@ user1484830599 Thank you for your reply. My apology. It's hard to understand because I have removed all the names of the companies involved. 'House' is our newly built building.
Our issue is that none of the amenities is malfunctioning and our kitchen is not set according to its floor plan and does not contain the same amount of amenities as the show flat kitchen we were given access to before the signing of our contract. Upon entering our property, the issues were reported but since it was a newly built property we could not follow the standard Housing Association complaint procedure. Our property was on a one year defect period, so all defects needed to be dealt by the developers. However, once the contractors informed them that our kitchen needed to be set according to its floor plan they stopped liaising with my landlord and us. I believe the affordable rent scheme is new to this housing association and they are not managing it well. However, none of the issues in our flat are being dealt with because it was the developers' responsibility.

wowfudge Sat 11-Feb-17 23:37:40

I understand you are annoyed but I think the best way to deal with this is to simplify what you are saying and make it more concise. I've seen your photos on your other threads and it is obvious a base unit has been fitted where the cooker should go in the kitchen. This error makes the kitchen layout extremely awkward.

What do you want to happen? I think, in your position, I would request that the HA did the necessary work to make the kitchen workable.

You need to agree a tenant's snagging list and get them to work through it.

Akire Sat 11-Feb-17 23:38:10

Sounds a nightmare, I have similar problems in a HA flat with metal window frames. That pour with water the minute it gets cold outside yet soon as get any sun you can cook an egg on them. They make flat south facing so hot it's unbearable.

CelineW Sat 11-Feb-17 23:38:54

Error: Our issue is that none of the amenities is functioning

CelineW Sat 11-Feb-17 23:47:38

@Akire They put aluminium windows in every newly built building now a day because they are guaranteed no maintenance compare to the good old sash windows :-) I like our tall windows because they bring in so much light into our room. If our ventilation system was working and an extras ventilation duct added in our boiler room the temperature in our flat would be bearable.
Have you thought of putting tinted UVA/UVH filter films on your windows? It worked wonders in our living room ;-)

CelineW Sat 11-Feb-17 23:59:29

@wowfudge My apology. I was told to get into every detail :-) That is only a summary. :-D
Yes, I am asking my landlord to remove the two tall ladders on the right-hand side of the sink and replace it with a 60 cm floor unit with electrical sockets above the worktop so I can move all my basic kitchen appliances from their existing place. Then. to use the remaining 70 cm for the Fridge freezer. I am asking for the 30 cm slimline floor unit to be moved against the L unit run, so that the cooker fits in the middle(ish) of the left wall and to provide use with another floor unit with electrical switches so we can lay our microwave on it. What do think?
I am asking for the above and all the amenities to be fixed, else our landlord has to find us another similar property.
One property in our building has just been vacated I asked to swap with it.

Palomb Sun 12-Feb-17 09:44:39

Having space for a microwave is hardly the be all and end all.

Houses built for HAs are always built at a lower spec than those built on the same development for the private market. You were probably shown the 'show home' as yours wasn't ready.

CelineW Sun 12-Feb-17 10:08:09

@Palomb HA also rent and sell residential properties. Our property is not a standard social housing home but an affordable rent property. Meaning our rent can be up to 80% of the private rental market and not under 50% as with council proprties. Every residents were given access to a show flat only. That is 21 properties. We were given access to the two bedroom show flat. The kitchen we got after signing our contract has 130 cm work surface missing, 2 x 60 cm floor units missing, 2 x 60 cm drawers missing, 150 cm wall units missing, 30 cm + missing in the allocated fridge/freezer space. In addition, our only 60 cm drawer is not openable (Zoom on the photo) and the floor unit under it can not be fully opened: worktop next to free-standing appliances should be 65 cm deep - ours is 60 cm - and there should be 30 cm wide worktop surface on both side of the cooker top. There isn't even a worktop space for our microwave. This isn't a family kitchen! We were made to sign our contract via deceit. Are you implying the leak in our bathroom floor and having no ventilation in half our property (rooms with no window) are acceptable?

CelineW Sun 12-Feb-17 10:19:36

@Palomb I was given the floor plan of the show flat and of our property. I was given permission to take photos and measurements of the show flat. I was assured amenities would be the same in all two bedrooms properties although they may be set out differently. We were deceived.

CelineW Sun 12-Feb-17 10:23:59

Compare the show flat kitchen with our kitchen!!!!

Quodlibet Sun 12-Feb-17 13:34:57

It sounds as though the build - the kitchen fit in particular - is substandard if you cannot even open adjacent cupboards. That is just shoddy workmanship/design and poor planning.

Have you been in touch with neighbouring tenants to see if any of them are experiencing the same issues? You'd get more purchase if you were making collective complaints.

I think the quality of a lot of new builds is very low unfortunately. I have a friend whose five-year-old building was condemned as there was a major structural issue. Three whole blocks of owners/tenants have had to relocate. It's hardly surprising in my opinion seeing as a lot of them seem to go up in five minutes flat.

CelineW Sun 12-Feb-17 14:03:49

@Quodlibet the two properties underneath our property have the same problem with their kitchen. I have reported it in the summary letter sent to the HHSRS. Every property in the building has major issues, including windows that can not be open, balcony doors that can not be locked, etc. It is a real mess.

Alwayscheerful Sun 12-Feb-17 18:37:36

Environmental health are very knowledgeable about building regulations they will prepare a report for your landlord stating essential items for repair and they will also list less essential repairs .
You can google building regulations yourself there are minimum distances for water and sockets and units and gas hobs. Is your heating gas or an eco friendly type such as wood pellet?

CelineW Sun 12-Feb-17 19:20:39

@Alwayscheerful Thank you for yoyr reply. Indeed we googled building regulations ourself but we couldn't find minimum distances regulations for water and sockets and units and gas hobs. There are regulation for bathrooms.
We have central heating. (Gas/electic)

Alwayscheerful Sun 12-Feb-17 19:54:52

NHBC technical "guidance"

Alwayscheerful Sun 12-Feb-17 20:00:11

I keep reading "where practical" regarding sockets and waster.

I feel for you but think you should concentrate on the dangerous issues or at least differentiate between dangerous, impractical and aesthetic. Your kitchen doesn't seem fit for purpose. Do try environmental health.

CelineW Sun 12-Feb-17 20:10:01

@Alwayscheerful Thank you. I really appreciate. I was advised by a surveyor I had a talk with to ask our Local MP to bring our case to the attention of the HHSRS and arrange a health and safety inspection. He believed the L corner of our kitchen is a fire hazard. I have done so but with the Brexit debates I believe our MP has not had to opportunity to deal with my request. She has been supporting us for two years already. I agree with you. Our kitchen is not fit for purpose. And for this reason we can't even swap.

Kiroro Mon 13-Feb-17 09:59:21

I don't know the ins and outs of how you can get anything sorted - but that kitchen is CRAP! Shame on the HA/developers.

CelineW Mon 13-Feb-17 10:41:27

@Kiroro the kitchen is crap and in an open living area. It is a nightmare to use with an under 5 year old child.

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