Stuck in a rut

A GROUP of tenants at a Kirriemuir housing development are calling for answers after being plagued with problems for 15 years.

The 10-home development at Tulloch Wynd was built by the Angus Housing Association (AHA) in 1996. It incorporates three one-bedroom homes, four two-bedroom homes and three three-bedroom cottages.

Despite the peaceful and idyllic setting, the residents have had numerous issues with the homes’ insulation and heating since they were first built.

A spokesperson for the group said: “They were built and completed in 1996 so it is not an old development but unfortunately these houses have had problems from the start.

“The houses have no insulation and no vents.

“The two and three bedroom properties have an added kitchen on the side of the properties and no roof insulation was put in the roof space, there is also no roof hatch.”

They continued: “The heating is archaic, it is made up of old storage heaters and panel heaters and to be honest you would get more heat from a candle.

“It is costing the tenants an average of £300 to £450 per month for heating costs and the houses are still freezing.

“Last winter was a particularly cold one and because the external walls are so cold the condensation runs down the walls and causes serious mould.”

They added: “This was also causing a problem with water running into wall sockets.

“AHA’s answer to this was to disconnect the sockets and they are still disconnected approximately 10 months later.”

A complaint was first made to AHA in the homes first winter in 1996.

Since then, the tenants have been promised changes will be made each year but, to date, nothing has been done to rectify the situation.

The spokesperson said: “We, the tenants, wrote a letter in April of this year to AHA again outlining our complaints.

“On the back of this we had a visit from a Brian Simpson who agreed that the difference in temperature from the external to internal was unacceptable and also that the heating was totally wrong for this type of housing.

“Originally there was supposed to be a log burning system installed and because money was spent on other things mainly drainage and dry stone walling storage heaters were installed.

“These heaters are so old that when they break down they are replaced with parts from other heating sources and dials put on back to front because it is the only way they will work.

“The representative also agreed that the heaters were too small.

“He promised us that money was there to correct these faults and that work would be started in August 2011 and would be complete by winter 2011.”

Despite these assurances the tenants have had no work done to their homes despite the fact winter is drawing closer.

Frustrated, the residents contacted Mike Weir, Angus MP, in the hope that his intervention would help their case.

The spokesperson said: “He did get a response from Angus Housing saying that the houses had been built to building regulation standard.

“But I fail to understand how a building inspector could have passed a completion certificate for houses that have no proper external and roof insulation and internal doors fitted to external back doors.

“It took a number of years before they put on the correct external doors and said that external insulation would be done for winter.

“Unfortunately the heating would not be done by 2014 and that we, the tenants, would receive a letter outlining the repairs.

“To date as usual nothing has been done despite these promises from Angus Housing Association.”

Bruce Forbes, director of AHA, said:

“The properties are in the process of being surveyed, starting last week, to bring the loft insulation up to currently recommended standards and to upgrade the overall insulation with cavity fill of the walls.

“After the survey is completed, installation will begin and I am assured that this work will be complete within the next two weeks.

“The electric storage heating was installed in 1996 and the tariff used was the best available at that time.

“If possible, we hope to find space in our budget for the current financial year to replace the storage heating with a wet electric system on a more up to date tariff (economy 10) before Christmas and at worst, next summer.

“I will have to look into the issues of “no vents” and “disconnected sockets” further with the tenants as I am unclear as to what is meant by these complaints.

“As to how much is spent on heating, I cannot comment other than to say that in an area where there is no mains gas supply, the night storage heating was the only option available when the houses were built.

“We are well on course to renew the central heating in all of these houses within the 20 years we normally budget for doing so.

“I would also offer the comment that renewing central heating to houses within fifteen to sixteen years of them being built is a quality of service that will not be surpassed by many landlords in either the public or private sector.”