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We’ve put together the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve had from customers living at Embankment House and Temple House. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please email us at EWS@hyde-housing.co.uk.

Why haven’t you shared the external wall inspection reports with residents?

We provided an overview of the issues identified by the surveys at the resident's meeting in March. In summary, some of the materials found didn't match with the original approved plans and some of the cavity barriers were missing or defective.

Our lawyers have told us we need to be very careful that we don’t share anything that could potentially compromise any future claims we may make against the original developer, Bouygues UK.

We know, from dealing with other contractors over fire safety defects, that claims are often vigorously defended on a number of different levels, so we need to ensure we take the right steps to maximise our chances of reaching an agreement.

Why haven't you come up with a plan of action yet?

Our preference is for Bouygues UK to carry out the remedial work, as it will mean we can sort the problems out much more quickly. We therefore want to give our negotiations as much time as possible, to maximise our chances of success.

If we have to take legal action, we’d have to re-tender the works to find another contractor, which will involve going through a formal consultation with leaseholders. That would mean work would be unlikely to start for 12 months and could take up to two years to finish.

Please note that, currently, we don’t have any projects on site, or any planned, with Bouygues UK.

We've always tried to be honest and transparent with residents and have never deliberately withheld information. While we understand residents may be frustrated with our apparent lack of progress, please be assured that we’re working as quickly as we can – we’ve no reason to want to delay resolving these issues. Any lack of detail from us doesn’t mean that progress isn’t being made.

How tall are the buildings?

Temple House is 17.94m tall and Embankment House is 21.15m tall. Please note that building height is measured to the level of the highest floor for Building Regulations.

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Can you explain the relationship between Hyde Vale (the freeholder) and the Hyde Group?

Hyde Vale Limited is a private limited company, originally formed to further the non-charitable housing activities of the Hyde Group. Hyde Vale’s profits are gifted back to its parent company, Hyde Housing Association Ltd, and used to support our social objectives. It falls under the wider corporate governance of the Group.

How did you decide to put a waking watch in our buildings?

As a landlord, we must ensure residents are safe under the Regulatory Reform Order. We do this by assessing the building in terms of fire safety and taking action where required. That's why we changed the evacuation strategy to simultaneous evacuation and put a waking watch in place.

We’re expected to follow the NFCC guidance, which is enforced by fire authorities across the UK. If we don’t follow the guidance it could result in enforcement action by the fire brigade.

Savills provides waking watch services to Hyde across all our buildings. As part of its service it assesses the risk to residents (based on fire reports, such as those from PRP) and then recommends whether or not to put a waking watch in place. Our in-house fire safety specialists challenge Savills on its recommendations to ensure we take the correct course of action.

Now the fire alarms have been installed in both buildings, can you remove the waking watch?

The fire and rescue service has recommended the fire alarm must be monitored remotely to avoid tampering, which we expect to be set up by 25 June. In the meantime, it’s recommended the best way to keep everyone safe is to support residents in evacuating the building, if the fire alarm goes off.

This means that a small waking watch must remain in both Temple House and Embankment House for the time being, to coordinate any evacuation. We’ll review the waking watch again, once remote monitoring of the fire alarm is set up.

How are you ensuring vulnerable residents will be evacuated safely in the event of a fire?

Since we changed the evacuation strategy last year, we’ve asked residents to let us know if there is anyone in their household that may need support in the event of a fire. This will allow us to complete a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) for them, so we can make sure they are evacuated safely. It’s vital that we have a PEEP for everyone who needs one, and it is the resident's responsibility to tell us, so please email us at ResidentFireSafety@hyde-housing.co.uk

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Have you applied for the Government’s Waking Watch Fund?

We did apply for the Waking Watch Relief Fund before the 14 March 2021 deadline for social housing providers – it’s worth remembering that the Fund only provides funding for installing temporary fire alarm systems.

Unfortunately, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which is administering the fund, has told us we were unsuccessful in our application. This is because we haven’t billed you yet for the waking watch; even though we have written to you that we may have to pass on the costs (which we provided as evidence).

The situation we find ourselves in is complicated: any costs passed onto residents would be done via the service charges and, under the social housing rules and regulations, we can’t change these until we’re in the next financial year, which starts on 1 April 2021. This means that, if we are going to have to pass charges on, we wouldn’t bill you until later in the year.

Obviously we are extremely disappointed about the decision and we feel we have a strong argument to appeal, which we are doing and we’ll keep you updated.

Are leaseholders going to have to pay for the remedial work, the waking watch and fire alarm?

We’ve not billed anyone yet and we’re trying to avoid having to do so, by recovering money from Bouygues UK and Government funding to cover some or all of the costs of remedial work and the waking watch.

However, we may have to pass on some of the costs. under the terms of your lease, you’re obliged to pay towards the costs of work to the building, including safety works, the waking watch and fire alarm installation. Any costs we do have to pass on will be shared between all homes in both buildings, not just leasehold and shared ownership homes. This means we’ll pay the share apportioned to any homes we rent out.

When are we going to get an EWS1 form, so we can sell or re-mortgage our homes if we want to?

Unfortunately, we’ll only be able to issue an EWS1 form once an EWS1 assessment has been carried out, which will happen once any remedial work is finished (so we can be sure the buildings will pass). Until that time, the buildings would be graded B2, which means remedial work is recommended by the assessor.

You can find answers to the most frequently asked questions about EWS1 forms here.

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