Lewisham tower block residents protest to demand urgent safety repairs
Members of the London Renters Union living Eros House tower block protested at Lewisham council today to demand urgent action to tackle the unsafe conditions in their block.
Many heaters in the block dangerously overheat, posing a fire risk, while others simply don’t work. As cold weather approaches, residents are demanding adequate heating and that broken windows are replaced to ensure the flats are habitable.
Other health and safety issues in the tower include chronic damp and mould, regular pipe leaks and floods, poor security and issues with electrical wiring.
More than 40 residents and other members of the newly-formed London Renters Union (LRU) gathered at Lewisham Council today to hand in a letter addressed to Mayor Damian Eagon.
Lewisham council, who has placed dozens of people on the social housing waiting list in temporary accommodation flats in the block, has so far refused to accept responsibility for conditions in the block. The council also has legal duties to ensure the safety of people living in the block who rent directly from the landlord.
The letter demands that the council recognises its responsibility to people living in the block and ensures that the landlord makes urgent repairs. The letter was signed by residents and campaigners with the Advice4Renters advice centre and the Corbyn-supporting Momentum group.
Some basic repairs were made following an earlier protest in April, but residents say fundamental problems remain unsolved.
In June, management company District Homes told council staff and residents that they would request the landlord sanction spending on new heating systems and other long term integral essential repairs.
It has since emerged that the landlord is developer Quinata Global, a Finchley-based firm that manages more than 1,000 residential properties and has a multi-million pound property portfolio.
Eros House residents and other LRU members handed in a protest letter at the Quinata offices this morning.
Lucy a Lewisham activist with the London Renters Union said:
“The mould, the lack of proper heating and the lack of security in the block are having a huge impact on the health and psychological wellbeing of our members.”
“It’s not good enough for Lewisham council to tell us that it is up to the landlord and the management company to make the repairs that are desperately needed at Eros House. Lewisham council have placed these families here so it’s their responsibility to make sure that residents are safe and warm this winter.”
“Quinata bought Eros House in 2016 and it seems that they’re hoping they’ll able to cash in and redevelop the tower at a later date and appears to be happy to ignore its legal and moral obligations to keep its tenants safe.”
“Much of rent paid to Quinata comes directly from housing benefit so the company is ripping us all off as well as residents. Eros House is a symbol of everything that’s wrong with a housing system that is rigged in favour of landlords and investors.”
“The Mayor describes himself as a progressive and a socialist so it’s about time he lives up to that and makes sure that the homes his council are placing people in are safe and fit for people to live in.”
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The signatories include leaders of trade unions Unite, Unison, NEU, GMB and CWU, tenant unions London Renters Union, Greater Manchester Housing Action and ACORN, and groups campaigning on housing policy such as New Economics Foundation and Generation Rent
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