Housing woes continue for residents living on South Kilburn’s regeneration site
PUBLISHED: 11:05 26 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:45 26 August 2020
A leaseholder living in a new property that forms part of a major regeneration scheme in South Kilburn said she is “tired” of having to deal with “never-ending” problems with her flat.
Lucie Gutfreund, who lives in Chase House, in Hansel Road, said she has spent years battling Brent Council and housing association L&Q about issues in the estate.
She has reported defects in the properties, including leaky balconies and loose fittings, as well as intermittent problems with the communal heating system in her block.
Ms Gutfreund is now trying to raise awareness over possible issues with cladding on her building, which was described as “low priority” when it comes for assessment or inspection due to its comparatively low height.
She has called for clarity on the safety of the materials used and questioned how such a serious issue could be pushed back.
And this all comes amid rising service charges of around £1,300 – around 120 per cent – since she moved in in 2013.
“We were sold these homes as nice and new and shiny, but it’s just been one thing after another,” she said.
“It’s ridiculous that it’s overtaken my life – I have to put everything on hold to get people to do what they should be doing.”
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Ms Gutfreund said she and her neighbours feel “stuck” in a position where they are unable to do anything about rising costs imposed on them by L&Q.
And she criticised Brent Council – the freeholders of the site – over inaction, suggesting that they are “turning a blind eye” to any mismanagement and offering little to no support to residents.
L&Q apologised for any inconvenience caused by the building issues at the new homes and said improvement works are ongoing, with the communal garden set to be reseeded in October.
A spokeswoman for L&Q added it would be in touch with residents over a recent £650 increase to charges, which it said were brought on by a miscalculation by energy provider EDF and council ground rent costs.
On the cladding issue, she said: “Unfortunately, as we own so many buildings affected by the Government guidance on fire safety, we’re not able to inspect, test, and then carry out works on them all at once.
“Instead we must prioritise our buildings based on risk. Our highest risk buildings, defined by height, occupancy and building materials, among other factors, will be inspected first.”
She added the group is “already responding to an enquiry from residents about the building materials used in the construction of this property”.
Cllr Eleanor Southwood, who is responsible for housing at welfare reform at Brent Council, said it is in contact with L&Q and is writing to residents to make them aware of how they can put forward complaints or concerns.
She said: “I’m really sorry that these issues persist and understand residents’ frustration.”
“It’s incredibly important to us that people feel safe and secure in their homes and we expect all registered providers operating in the borough to meet residents’ expectations of them.”
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