New council flats in Brighton are so hot that tenants are plugging in fans and running up their electricity bills to try to cool down.
The overheating has also been blamed for the lifts breaking down which was described as “a common experience, leaving some residents with disabilities trapped in their flats”.
The water pressure is so low that it can take 15 minutes for hot water to come through and two hours to run a bath.
And the toilets won’t flush properly, there have been leaks and floor levels are dropping, prompting a senior councillor to urge officials to set a deadline for sorting out the snags.
Labour councillor Nancy Platts raised the tenants’ complaints about the new Kite Place flats at a Brighton and Hove City Council meeting just over a week ago.
The former council leader, who represents East Brighton ward, said: “The residents of Kite Place in East Brighton have suffered many problems since moving into their new properties.
“These have included ongoing problems of water pressure, with residents reporting it can take up to 15 minutes for hot water to come through and up to two hours to run a bath, as well as toilets not flushing properly.
“Attempts to fix the water pressure have caused leaks in communal areas.
“Residents report significant overheating in many flats and communal areas, which makes some residents feel unwell.
“Some need to use fans to cool their flats and this has increased their electricity bills.
“The overheating has also caused lifts to break down and breakdowns have become a common experience, leaving some residents with disabilities trapped in their flats.
“Residents have also reported that the floors in their flats are ‘dropping’.
“Councillors requested a meeting was held with officers and residents and this took place in August.
“Can the council give a clear timeline that shows when the problems will be fully resolved?”
The first tenants moved into the 57 flats in Kite Place – a £14 million scheme on the corner of Whitehawk Road and Findon Road – just over three years ago. The flats were built on the site of the old library.
Green councillors David Gibson and Siriol Hugh-Jones, who jointly chair the council’s Housing Committee, said: “We are very concerned that some residents have encountered these issues at Kite Place and the housing and regeneration teams are working closely together to investigate and resolve them.”
In Kite Place East, they said, “inspections are continuing to be undertaken in the properties.
“Water pressure and the supply of hot water would appear to be the only issues in this block and the remediation upgrade is awaiting a date from the contactors to be confirmed.”
The approved works include “the replacement of primary pumps and subsequent pipework and electrical alterations to facilitate a better flow rate on the primary pipework circuit”.
They said: “This is to address the issues of the poor hot water supply to the properties within this block.”
In Kite Place West, they said, “inspections that have been undertaken have shown that the circulation central heating within the block is being interrupted by the entraining of air into the system.
“Various solutions are being developed to alleviate this problem and a full schedule of remediation will be released shortly. This work is expected to be completed by mid-December 2021.
“In addition, and in order to fully understand the issues and lessons we can learn, Housing’s Property and Investment Team is undertaking a procurement exercise to appoint independent building surveyors to undertake condition survey of defects noted and reported by residents.
“We are currently going through the procurement process with the aim of undertaking full surveys early in the new year followed by a report in spring 2022.
“This will be shared and actions taken to resolve the issues in line with the survey’s findings.
“External consultants will complete the following surveys
- Flooring issues to flats
- Balcony issues with system adopted
- Review of hairline cracks and minor movement – internal and external
- Ventilation to flats
- Overview of windows
- Overview of solar gain issues
- Review of the plumbing installation
- General condition survey
“As part of the consultant investigations we will review whether any of these issues are latent defects or covered by warranty.
“We are sorry that residents have experienced these issues and want to undertake a thorough investigation to ensure the correct measures are taken to fully resolve them and lessons learnt are taken forward to future projects.”
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