Fire door refunds handed to leaseholders

Refund comes two years since problems were first highlighted, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Homes for Haringey
The Homes for Haringey offices in Station Road, Wood Green (credit Google)

Leaseholders who paid thousands of pounds for renovations including fire doors that were not fitted have finally been refunded – two years after receiving the bills.

Haringey Council’s Liberal Democrat opposition leader Luke Cawley-Harrison said the authority should be “ashamed” of the way it treats leaseholders and there was “no excuse” for failing to pay back the money sooner.

But Haringey Council said specialised burns testing contributed to the delays and housing arm Homes for Haringey was not in a position to refund the money until it knew the outcome of the tests – although it “recognises communication could have been better”.

Leaseholders in different parts of the borough were issued with Section 20 notices for new fire doors and other work, such as asbestos removal, in 2019.

But after paying the demands in full or through a payment plan, they failed to receive further updates from Homes for Haringey on when the work would take place or why there were delays.

Homes for Haringey agreed to refund leaseholders due to the delays following months of pressure from opposition councillors, the Lib Dems said.

The council’s housing arm has now confirmed that the testing programme is complete, and a new Section 20 consultation will be held. Once this is finished, new invoices will be issued and the doors will be installed.

Cllr Cawley-Harrison said: “Haringey Council should be ashamed of the way it treats its leaseholders. This is the latest in a litany of failures. While safety is of paramount importance, there is no excuse for failing to keep residents informed, nor for withholding their money from them for work that was not going to take place in the near future.

“I am glad that they have finally seen sense and decided to refund leaseholders for doors which were never installed, but it should not have taken this long. Liberal Democrats will support residents with the new Section 20 process and keep up the pressure on the council until these doors are finally replaced.”

Haringey Council said Homes for Haringey reviewed the certificates for fire doors that were being installed due to the Grenfell Tower fire and felt they required further assurance.

The council’s housing arm commissioned its own specialised burns tests to ensure they met the legal requirements. These can only be caried out at a few test centres, and there was high demand for testing across the country following the Grenfell fire.

A Haringey Council spokesperson said: “Homes for Haringey recognises that communication could have been better, but they did not want to alarm leaseholders while the safety checks were being carried out.

“Homes for Haringey were unable to estimate how long this process was going to take but were determined to ensure that all the safety checks were thorough and met the legal requirements.

“The results have only just been finalised, and therefore Homes for Haringey have not been in a position to refund the money prior to knowing the outcome of the safety tests that have been mentioned.

“It was always Homes for Haringey’s intentions to do the works once the safety issues had been resolved.

“Due to the length of time it has taken, Homes for Haringey has refunded the money and are consulting with leaseholders about the new works programmes for the fire doors.”