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Housing Association refusing to undertake repairs until asbestos test is done.

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557 views 3 replies latest reply: 16 January 2015
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Tenant

My housing association is insisting that no further repairs will be done until an asbetos test is done throughout the whole flat.

So far they have refused to complete heating repairs which were outstanding before the asbestos tests were even mentioned; (Those repairs have taken over 18 months so far. Suffice to say we had no working heating for over ten years and then they installed two new heaters, both of which stopped working within a month of switching them on and another heater has yet to be installed, been waiting since the beginning of last year for that one.) and not replaced the front door which they insisted needed replacing.

Anyway the HA keep sending different workmen round, all demanding in to do this asbestos test, keep phoning to arrange appointments then they don’t show, and increasingly threatening letters demanding full access to every room in the flat. 

The companies doing this on the HA’s behalf are all subcontractors and when you phone to sapeak to them they don’t have a clue what they are doing or what you are talking about, that is if they even pick up the phone.

I have spoken with neighbours. Our immeidate neighbour said they had the same asbestos testing done FOUR times, each round of testers saying they have no record of previous testing!

Others in the block have had the testing done, most have not as yet. Yes the HA is apparently testing every single property it has.

What are the odds that if our neighbours are asbestos free that we are as well.

The whole thing feels intrusive and threatening, not to mention being handled by incompetent buffoons!

Can we refuse the testing? What grounds do they have to refuse to do any repairs at all until testing is done?

Also this is not an uncommon pattern with this HA. We are supposed to be getting new loft insulation. So far in the past 3 years we’ve had numerous surveyers round taking measurements, all without an appointment demanding immediate access. Each one saying they have to take new measurements as the last ones were wrong/lost/etc. We still haven’t had new loft insulation. We now refuse them entry and tell them to make an appointment, and then never hear another thing until the next surveyore comes knocking wanting in.

Plus almost every repair/work they have previuolsy done has been poor and substandard eg new kitchen installed left us with yellow/black/purple mould growing inside the cupboards, which they refused to do anything about. We had to fix ourselves at our expense. A new bathroom was installed. The new toilet spewed sewage all over the bathroom floor every time it was flushed. They refused to fix as they said there was nothing wrong with it. They left it like it for 3 years. Eventually we got a plumber in who took one at it and knew immediately what was wrong. They had put the wrong sewage connection pipe on. He fixed it within 15 minutes!

Needless to say our HA is next to useless, most minor repairs we now do ourselves! It’s just this asbestos testing which is almost bordering on harrassment now!

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Administrator

Hi Amanda

The HA will have a duty to avoid exposing workmen to potential asbestos, which is probably what they’re using as the reason for refusing to carry out the repairs (and this will be valid if there actually is a danger from asbestos). Yes, it’s likely that if your neighbours are asbestos free you will be too as the same materials were probably used, however, with asbestos authorities can’t take chances and you’re unlikely to be able to refuse the testing.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t object to the way it is being handled. It does seem that either they/their subcontractors are incredibly incompetent or they are using the asbestos testing to delay making the repairs. I would imagine that with asbestos, if there actually is any danger or risk then the testing would have to be carried out fairly quickly – you might want to pop in to a law centre and get some legal advice on specifically what the law requires from HAs in terms of asbestos and when (it’s free, here’s a list).

Even outside of the asbestos delay the time it has taken to do any repairs is pretty poor. Take a look at this info from Shelter on the topic of HA repairs – among other things it states that the work shouldn’t be unreasonably delayed (it would be hard to describe the delays to your heating repairs as ‘reasonable’). You can claim compensation for repairs under £250 that aren’t done quickly enough under the Right to Repair scheme. This wouldn’t cover the heating but might for the toilet or other smaller issues you have. You also have the right to a ‘decent home’ under the Decent Home Standard, which includes efficient heating and effective insulation, which you obviously don’t have. You can complain to your local authority but you have other options too, including the Property Ombudsman and taking the HA to court either for compensation or to compel them to carry out the repairs.

Whatever you choose to do the first step is usually to gather evidence of communication and the facts of the situation (i.e. that you’ve given the HA reasonable time to do the repairs, that the asbestos testing is being unreasonably delayed etc). Then you can take this to a law centre, to the Citizens Advice Bureau or the Property Ombudsman and start looking at ways to motivate the HA to take action.

Hope that helps

Alex

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Tenant

Thanks. I’ll look into that.

I’ve been in my flat my 14 years and they have never raised any concerns about asbestos before. A good time for all that was when they ripped the kitchen and bathroom out.

They did test the communal areas some years ago and nothing was found.

Right now they are refsuing to even do plumbing repairs. The letter they sent says no repairs not even emergency ones will be carried out until the asbestos test is done. What risk of asbestos is there from putting a new storage heater in? 

Odd that if it were that urgent then why has it taken them a year of messing around (and retesting several times in my neighbours case).

In the years I have been here I have never heard of any asbestos being found in these flats. Some of these flats are now in the hands of private landlords.

The whole thing has become a farce since the HA was taken under the umbrella of a larger housing company a couple of years ago. Other HAs under this particular company has similar issues with repairs not being done, appointments not being kept, and work being done several times.

Today I received a phone call from a local window company to arrange an appointment to fix my windows. They had just been sent the job sheet. Problem is the windows were fixed a year ago! Why are they raising jobs for things already done!

It’s a complete farce!

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Administrator

It does sound like a total nightmare. Have you thought about complaining to the Ombudsman?  If the HA is in a mess that might be the motivation they need to sort themselves out and the Ombudsman can compel them to act and also pay compensation. Might be worth looking into..

Hope things improve.

Alex

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