Scott House residents speak out after years of faulty heating and broken lifts

Council tenants at the Edmonton tower block say they “deserve to be treated with respect”, reports Grace Howarth, Local Democracy Reporter

Scott House in Edmonton
Scott House in Edmonton

Tenants living in a “high risk” tower block in Edmonton believe Enfield Council “doesn’t care” following several years of disrepairs.

Yasmin*, a resident at Scott House in Woolmer Road for almost 15 years, says the heating has never worked consistently, going out for days or sometimes weeks and leaving her without hot water or central heating.

Rebecca Owen, another resident, said the issue would usually get fixed after several days but the solutions were always temporary – for six months between July and January she said she didn’t have consistent heating in her flat.

In October, the heating went out across the building for a month. Since there was no hot water or heating, tenants said the council offered them a stay in a hotel, two weeks after the issue began, so the problem could be investigated.

Yasmin said rent and charges still had to be paid and residents had to provide their own meals if they stayed at the hotel.

Residents were also told they could use the showers at the nearby Craig Park Community Centre. Yasmin, who has three children, decided to shower at her parents’ house instead.

The Scott House residents, who are mostly council tenants, were given £180 per property and two fan heaters which “skyrocketed electricity” to compensate for the disruption.

Yasmin said this came after a number of residents complained at the block’s regular committee meeting. “It’s just frustrating because it has such a negative effect on life, your wellbeing. The kids ask me: ‘mum is there hot water today for a shower?’”

Yasmin said Scott House, which has 101 properties, had been a “guinea pig” for a new heating system installed back in 2013 which she believed wasn’t done “correctly”.

She said pipes leaked boiling water into flats and hallways, boilers flooded, and tenants weren’t able to change energy providers.

As a solution the council installed a temporary boiler, which sits in the block’s car park and has a gas pipe which runs up the building’s stairways. But Yasmin said this broke down as well and the pipes were exposed and hot to touch.

Homeless people now sleep in the walkways to keep warm, while there are also drug addicts and sex workers.

Rebecca said: “I took my granddaughter to school this morning. She’s seven, we had to step over this drunk person on the floor, because the lift had broken down.”

Yasmin added: ”We’ve come out the door, and there’s a drug user outside sleeping – once someone passed out in the lift.”

The lifts are another maintenance issue, with both of those in the 16-floor building being said to ”always break down”.

One lift goes to the even-numbered floors and but stopped working completely last August while the other, which goes to the odd floors, breaks down “ten times a day”.

Yasmin recalled one shocking incident when a resident’s child was ill and needed an ambulance. She said they lived on the 16th floor and the mother had to carry the child all the way down the stairs as emergency services could not use the lifts.

Rebecca added that the council’s response was usually to call the on-site ‘caretaker’ but, when they do, a lot of the time “no-one picks up”.

Yasmin also mentioned that every room in her flat has been affected by damp and mould as a consequence of the heating issues.

She said: “My kitchen was really bad, but because I kept moaning, eventually last year in August, a year after I first reported it, they did it [replastering]. All they usually do when there is mould, they just spray over it, they don’t actually treat it.

“We feel like they don’t care, I don’t know whether it’s just because we live in Edmonton, we’re not part of the rich areas, we’re still human, we still pay our rent, we still pay our council tax, some of us study, some of us work, it’s not like we’re sitting here doing nothing.

“We deserve to be treated with respect and have a safe home for ourselves and our families.”

In response, a council spokesperson said it was in the process of “scoping” what improvements were needed at Scott House, adding the block was included as part of the council’s “£50million capital works programme” for housing repairs.

They said: “We are clear that all our residents deserve to live in safe, decent homes and all our efforts are going into prioritising the most urgent remedial works required.”

They acknowledged the existing boiler had failed last year and was “unable to be repaired” while the temporary boiler was fitted “as soon as possible” and “immediate assistance” was provided in the form of heaters and offers of temporary accommodation.

Council officers were “onsite engaging with residents” to provide updates on works and timescales, and all impacted residents were offered compensation.

The spokesperson added that lift failures were always treated as an “emergency” and that it aimed to fix them “as rapidly” as it could.

In regards to anti-social behavior they said the council was funding additional security for the next month and that this provision formed part of the roving security pilot on its estates.

*Real name not used as anonymity requested

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