FAMILIES could be kicked out of their homes after a court ruled the building they live in is a health hazard.
Residents of Albany Heights, Hogg Lane, Grays, have been left stunned after the fire service went to court.
An inspection had found that part of the block didn’t have the proper ventilation systems.
If the situation isn’t corrected by October, authorities will shut down the building.
Residents are now at war with the National House-Building Council (NHBC) – the country’s leading standards-setter for new homes – and developer Bellway Homes, as to why the block was signed off in 2007. They have been quoted at least £120,000 for the work.
But they believe they are not liable and have vowed to fight.
Niamh Wakeling and Daniel Patch, both 35, have both gone to the NHBC, which doesn’t believe the work needs doing.
Mrs Wakeling said: “Why should we have to pay? We didn’t build the thing. NHBC and Bellway are arguing among themselves and we’re stuck in the middle.
There are people’s lives at risk here.”
Mr Patch said: “NHBC have said they don’t think the work needs to be done and won’t do it, even though the court have said it must be done.”
Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price said: “How dare these companies evade their legal obligations and dump huge liabilities on the homeowners?
“Albany Heights and Bridgland Road (Purfleet) have highlighted real weaknesses in consumer protection.
“I will be looking for an opportunity to have a debate in Parliament on these issues. “
But Swan Housing Association, which manages 28 homes within the block, has confirmed that the findings do not relate to any of the properties they manage.
A spokesperson for Swan said: "Swan’s fire safety procedures, which include weekly inspections and monthly flash tests, are distinct from those on the private side. Neither Swan nor their tenants have access to the side affected by the ventilation issue."
'We're not in the wrong'
DEVELOPER Bellway Homes has defended its role.
It said designs and building work were in accordance to regulations set out by the NHBC and was happy it had followed the correct building process.
A spokesperson said: “The development was subject to this same rigorous procedure, ensuring that during both design and build phases we were compliant with the relevant requirements at the time.”
The NHBC has also stood firm and defended its role.
A spokesperson said: “Although we are confident that the building meets the requirements of the building regulations, following the magistrates’ court’s decision, we will be offering to engage with the fire authority, the managing agents and the local MP to try to reach a satisfactory solution for the homeowners.”
Both bodies have recently come under fire from flat owners in Purfleet as well.
Eight families on the Watts Wood Park estate, Bridgland Road are currently homeless after roof damage just before Christmas.
An independent report by a building consultancy found major defects in the construction of the building and its roof.
The report labelled large parts of the construction “inadequate”.