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’re sorry we can’t share all the details of the inspections with you.
This is nothing to do with GDPR, nor are we trying to hide anything, it’s simply that we don’t want to raise false alarms until we have a better understanding of the full extent of these complex issues, and what needs to be done about them, ourselves. Please be assured that we’re working as quickly as we can and a lack of detail from us doesn’t mean that progress isn’t being made.
We also need to be very careful that we don’t share anything that could potentially compromise any future claims we make against developers or contractors.
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. This includes considering carefully what information is shared with customers – a therefore with the contractor – and when.
Have you notified the insurers about the potential issues?
We’ll be notifying our insurers of a potential claim, once we’re received the final version of the inspection report from our consultant PRP. To make a claim, we’ll have to demonstrate that we’ve been unsuccessful in our discussions with the developer, which are currently underway.
Do all flats have to have detectors fitted before the fire alarm is switched on and the waking watch can be reduced?
Yes, we need to have detectors in every home before we can change the evacuation strategy (and reduce the waking watch), so we comply with fire safety guidance. We understand the potential financial implications of this decision but we must put safety first.
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How are you planning to gain access to the remaining flats?
We’ve sent numerous letters to those flats we haven’t been able to get into, we’ve knocked on doors and have spoken to managing agents, and to the leaseholders (where they are not resident). We can’t ask the fire brigade to force access, as we are already mitigating the risks through the waking watch.
Rest assured that we want to complete this work as much as residents do and as soon as we can and we are very grateful for everyone’s co-operation in getting this finished.
Once the fire alarm is installed, how much smaller will the waking watch be?
There are currently seven fire wardens working across both buildings and we expect this to be reduced to three, once the fire alarm system is up and running. This will reduce the monthly cost to £41,000, split across both buildings. Unfortunately, the concierge is not trained to support the waking watch.
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.
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.