Residents must move out over fire safety – but must still pay L&Q full rent while cladding is removed

Katherine Johnston (15 May, 2019) Housing

Where tenants will be moved to is still unclear

2954426 Arch Street

Tenants and leaseholders in L&Q’s Arch Street, Elephant & Castle, will have to move out while cladding is removed over fire safety concerns – but still be charged rent.

The housing association has been told residents need to move out ‘as soon as possible’ and will be given alternative, paid-for accommodation.

There is currently no timeframe for when the work will be started and complete and information about what accommodation will be provided is also scant. There is no guarantee offers will be made in ‘the local area’.

A letter sent to residents from L&Q, dated May 4, said: “The works will involve at least the removal of cladding from the external walls of the building but will likely include more than this.

“Investigations are ongoing as to the full detail of the scope of works. You will not be charged for the costs of these works.”

Tenants will have to continue paying rent to L&Q, while living elsewhere with no commitment to suspend their service charge.

Responding to requests by the News for the latest update on the cladding removal, an L&Q spokesperson said: “Our number one priority is the safety of our residents, which is why we’ve taken a proactive approach to ensuring the safety of all our buildings in line with the latest Government advice.

“As part of this action plan, an independent fire engineer visited the property and identified a number of issues with the external wall system which need to be addressed.

“Based on expert advice, it is necessary to move residents out?as soon as possible.

“We understand how disruptive this is and we are committed to giving our residents every assistance and they will not incur any costs as a result.

“To keep our residents safe while they continue to occupy the property, we have put in place 24-hour fire marshals and offered immediate alternative accommodation.

“We have staff on-hand at our local office and we have set up a dedicated response line to handle resident’s questions or concerns.”

Arch Street was constructed for L&Q by Willmot Dixon, in 2011. The cladding is not made of the same material used in the Grenfell tower, an Aluminium Composite Material (ACM).

The news coincides with a new government announcement that taxpayers will be picking up the bill for cladding to be removed from private developments around the UK – to the tune of £200 million.

When asked by the News how the work will be funded, L&Q’s representative said it has allocated £50 million towards fire safety work needed across its entire portfolio.

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