A Croydon MP has accused a firm of managing agents of having lied, as residents in a town centre block of flats were left without water for nearly four days and with no functioning lift.
Some of the residents of Bridge House on Waterworks Yard, next to Surrey Street Market, include the elderly and vulnerable, as well as families with small children.
The water supply to nearly 80 flats was cut off on Sunday, as Croydon headed into a Bank Holiday heatwave with the highest temperatures of the year so far.
Sarah Jones, the MP for Croydon Central, and the area’s ward councillors, made repeated attempts to engage with the flats’ managing agents, The HML Group, who have offices on Park Lane in Croydon.
When Inside Croydon called HML Group this morning, no one there was able to answer our questions, nor did they know whether the situation for Bridge House residents had been improved.
Residents had also been left with a paucity of information once the water supply was cut off on Sunday.
After the managing agents issued each household with just three bottles of water yesterday, some residents received an email from the HML Group around 11pm last night advising them to go on a shopping trip to buy more water and to keep the receipts for reimbursement.
“We cannot leave this for another night,” one angry resident said. “No showers, no toilets, no drinking water.”
This morning, another resident tweeted, “Can the HML Group please update all residents in Bridge House with a truthful when the engineer will be here to fix our water please? Four days of being unable to flush our toilets is disgusting! All we want is some honest communication to all residents.”
The request by the MP for the managing agents to arrange for residents to be moved to a hotel until the issues can be resolved was first greeted with a promise from HML Group. But the managing agents refused to put the offer in writing.
A later message from the company yesterday claimed that an email had been sent before 6pm to “the residents and leaseholders that I have email addresses for…”, something that has been disputed by some residents, “… advising that they can go to a hotel”.
But there was a “but”: the managing agent added, “I also advised that I could not guarantee reimbursement until I spoke to the insurance company.”
One of the ward councillors tweeted, “I’m staggered by the incompetence of HML Group. Leaving residents in this situation is an absolute disgrace.” The company’s attitude was, according to the councillor, “appalling”.
By midnight last night, Jones was threatening to call in the police. “You cannot leave people with no water,” she tweeted.
She branded the company’s inaction as “disgraceful”.
“Ringing your out of hours number has achieved nothing,” Jones posted on Twitter.
“You must move people to hotels when they have no water. The council is delivering some emergency water but you have to move people now they have no toilets. Please act now.”
By this morning, Jones issued an open message for advice from housing law specialists, saying, “The managing agents lied on the phone, and have kept residents in fear with little communications and have no list of vulnerable residents, but have they acted illegally?”
Inside Croydon put a series of questions about Bridge House to HML Group this morning, including,
- Is the water back on yet?
- Have the lifts been fixed?
- Why has it taken your company so long to respond to the tenants’ complaints?
- Why did your company do nothing to provide alternative accommodation for the tenants? And…
- What’s it like to see your company labelled as “liars” by the local MP?
But by the time of publication, just like the residents and leaseholders in Bridge House, HML Group had failed to provide us with any satisfactory answers.
But their “head of marketing” (nice!) did drop us a note to say that she would “endeavour” to get a statement to us at some point… Which, approaching four days into this particular crisis with a property they are supposed to look after, seemed to be, well, a bit wet.
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