Will the council take enforcement action about damp?

The residents association met Lambeth Council in mid December 2020. The council said they will only take enforcement action on damp if the housing associations don’t reply with a credible plan to fix the damp themselves

Sanctum have produced a report highlighting problems with the housing stock on St Martins. The Housing Associations will respond to it by Friday 18th December with an action plan and a timeline. The council will then say whether or not this is adequate. [UPDATE: The Housing Associations have not complied with this deadline]

The Housing Associations agree they need to make improvements. The Housing Associations and the council may disagree on the detail. In particular the Housing Associations focus on roofs and guttering whereas Sanctum believes the envelope of the building is the problem. If one wall is much colder than another there will be problems. Dry lining a wall may provide a solution but Cllr Atkins said this has been tried in the past and not been very effective. [UPDATE: Cllr Atkins has subsequently said “The ineffective repairs I am not sure was “dry lining” but continually cleaning, treating and re painting. Which I know one of the people in Saunders house on the ground floor has had done several times.”]

Only if the housing association action plan proves inadequate will the council take enforcement action. The idea is to focus on one particularly badly affected block and do virtual internal inspections of the flats there. If this happens the council will write to all residents in the affected block to explain the situation. This should give enough information to serve an enforcement notice. The council hopes once the Housing Associations see that they’re serious they will make other improvements without enforcement action.

Council enforcement assesses the building against 29 hazards. Powers range from a warning through to a demolition order. Though the most likely power to use in an improvement notice. The council sets out what the problems are, how to tackle the problems and the time frame. If HAs refuse to comply it is an offence. It is bad publicity for HAs to be served with an improvement notice.

It’s unclear at this stage how much of any improvement cost will be borne by leaseholders


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