Salford City Disrepair Issues Editorial/Web

HISTORY

Many people reading this article will not realise that Salford City is the home of Manchester United Football Club! It is also the home of Trafford Park, now nationally famous for the Trafford Centre. However, few will know that Trafford Park, a Salford suburb, was a major supplier of material in the First and Second World Wars, producing the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines used to power both the Spitfire and the Lancaster bomber. At its peak in 1945, an estimated 75,000 workers were employed in the Park, a thriving environment albeit with significant Victorian housing stock.

However, from the 1960’s, the Salford City housing landscape changed beyond recognition.  High-rise properties replaced community orientated terraced estates.  As a result, family, friendships  and long-established societies were fragmented forever by government agencies with little consultation or regard for the local population.  Whilst this was, perhaps, with the best of intentions, not all of the changes were beneficial. Much of Salford City bygone times is now confined to vintage photographs, old video clips and the aged memories of those who once lived there.

Many of Salford’s  1960’s and 1970’s structures were sadly built upon the principles of brutalist architecture and imposed upon people against their will. Whilst appearing innovative and futuristic to the designing architects, they brought indelible misery, isolation and the loss of the ‘Salfordite’ spirit.

Aside from breaking-up many close-knit communities, the supposed ‘modern living’ structures were found to be affected by inherent flaws, many of which were known at the time they were being built!  Despite latter efforts to deliver upgrades and enhancements, one of the most recent significant issues affecting high-rise properties in the area is the risk of fire caused by cladding.

DECENT HOMES FOR ALL

The historical legal principle was that all homes must be fit for human habitation. Remarkably, due to changes in legislation, the rule became obsolete because the maximum annual rent to which it applied was not raised above £80, in Inner London, and £52 in Outer London. This meant that due to inflation and rising rents, many tenants living in poor and sometimes dangerous conditions could do nothing about it.

Nearly 20 years ago, Local Authorities were required by the Government to set out a timetable under which they would assess, modify and, where necessary, replace their housing stock according to the conditions laid out in the standard which stated:-

  1. it must meet the current statutory minimum standard for housing
  2. it must be in a reasonable state of repair
  3. it must have reasonably modern facilities and services
  4. it must provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.

It was expected that all Tenants could live a decent life in a decent standard of home and yet decades on the National Office of Statistics  for social housing records that over 525,000 social homes in England alone do not meet the National Decent Homes Standard.

After almost 20 years passing, if you live in social housing, then there is a very high likelihood that either you or people that you know are affected by these problems. If this is the case then the law is now on your side and action can be taken.

CLADDING NIGHTMARE

The potential consequences of cladding was illustrated by the Grenfell Tower disaster. This tragic event has understandably caused great distress to residents across the nation, notably for those living in high-rise buildings.

Information disclosed by The Department of Communities and Local Government found that Salford had the highest number of tower blocks failing combustibility tests of any Local Authority in England. Considering that the Grenfell Tower tragedy occurred on 14th June 2017 (over three years ago), the time it has taken to commence urgent fire compliance  demonstrates the  utter contempt for residents and the disregard for human life.

Shortly after the Grenfell Tower fire Sue Sutton, Executive Director of Salix Homes commented that:-

 “The cladding system in place on these blocks met all fire safety and building regulations when they were installed – However, government advice regarding removal of cladding is now unclear. In line with other housing providers in Salford and across the country, we’ve now halted the removal of further cladding until we have clearer advice from the authorities”.

We are now approaching 2021 and the necessary and essential repairs are  still not completed. Considering the scale of the hazard and the risk of death, the delays in reaching a resolution to the satisfaction of residents is clearly not reasonable. The health and safety of tenants has been placed at severe risk by a quagmire of incompetence, bureaucracy and ‘red-tape’.

Where cladding has been removed, buildings have been left with insufficient insulation. This has caused cold spots on the exterior walls allowing dewpoint to cause condensation resulting in mould growth, which is prejudicial to health. As another winter approaches, this lack of insulation will significantly increase heating costs. Many buildings are also affected by a variety of other problems which are severely impacting the lives of residents, such as defective windows, fire doors and electrical hazards.

THE FUTURE

On 20th March 2020 (Homes) Fitness for Human Habitation Act 2018 became law.

Before this enactment the structure and/or exterior of the building had to be affected by disrepair in order for legal action to be taken. Many tower blocks, maisonettes and other high-rise buildings were therefore not covered by the law because problems were categorised as being the result of inherent design defects rather than disrepair.  The was arguably a convenient loophole for many landlords who allowed their tenants to live in hazardous and unfit homes.

However, a recent change in the law now requires every home to be fit for human habitation and countless properties clearly do not meet this definition.

Tenant Claim Limited desire is for your Landlord to face up to their responsibilities at long last. It is your legal entitlement as a paying tenant. Do not tolerate being put off your rights; the threat of eviction cannot be enforced for law abiding citizens seeking a fit and hazard free home maintained to the decent standard we all expect.

Salford City Disrepair Issues Editorial/Web

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