Evelyn Court estate residents take action against landlord over poor conditions

This post was updated at 15:03 on 10 March 2022 to include a statement from the Industrial Dwellings Society (IDS) in response to the issues raised by the residents of Evelyn Court.


Residents of Evelyn Court in East London are putting pressure on their landlord – IDS – to improve conditions after years of neglect.

Video transcript

My kids had health issues from this long-term draft and moulding. We had cracks in my front bedroom. My son, the small one, had to go to Whitechapel to do a sleepover because we had breathing problems. You can see here part of the shoddy job they’ve [contractors] done. The estate is run down, really, this could be described as a slum.

Hi, my name is Romain, and I’ve been living in Evelyn Court over about 17 years. It was OK. When we had the first maintenance company downstairs, in house. It wasn’t that bad, but we still had the same issues with the damp. But the consistency with the flooding and the damping has not changed. And now it’s got even worse where we have to wait a long period of time to get repairs out to someone to come in and do it, or when they do come, sometimes they don’t finish their jobs.

So jobs are left unfinished or they don’t turn up at all. So those are things that we’re suffering from now.

My name is Frank, resident of Evelyn Court Estates. I’ve been here roughly for 34 plus years. A lot has changed, really. When I first came, 1987, there was more of a kind of community in the estate, so seem to like, know each other. We’re like each other’s keepers.Our children being good together.hat kind of, you know, community spirit was there, but which I think we have lost over the years. How did we lost the community spirit? Again, partly due to changes in the management of the estate, because round about between 10-15 years ago, IDS removed from site the estate managers, the cleaners, the contractors, and all those people that, you know, did different things within the estate. And that started to make life more difficult, because in those days, you know, you can see the estate manager knocking doors, going around, knocking doors, checking people’s welfare. You know ‘you okay?’ – not waiting for them to come to him to complain.

These days, we don’t even know the names. We don’t know which contractor is coming. We don’t know their names. They just come and they go and you can see here part of the shoddy job they have done. It didn’t used to be like this, when the  former contractors were here – they did proper jobs.

Read on...

The conditions here have been – I came here and saw it like this, but it has gotten worse because I think because there’s no consistency with the repair team, because they have changed. I think this is the third company been working here. I will definitely go into the action day tomorrow, and reasons why I’ll be going is because it’s for me and it’s for everybody and everyone in Evelyn Court because we have been suffering so long, and it’s been now affecting our health. Psychologically and mentally we are frustrated, and we feel that we’re not being valued, and we’re not being heard. We’re just being pushed aside and ignored. And now what I wish will come from this campaign or what we’re doing together: we need long term solutions.

CHANT: I believe that we will win!

The priorities is that we want: landlord that listens, that will listen, that are proactive

CHANT: IDS, all we are saying is give us good homes


Statement from the Industrial Dwellings Society (IDS)

Actions taken

  • We met with residents and their representatives from the London Renters Union, and we were grateful to them for making us aware of the depth of the issues. We listened to their concerns, assured them we would take them seriously, investigate and respond to each and every one. We have been working through their points and drew up an action plan, and we will make sure residents are completely satisfied with the outcomes.
  • We started work immediately we were made aware. We promised to meet with residents to review progress and talk about how we will continue to work with them. This meeting is scheduled for later this month and all residents have been invited to attend.
  • We promised to visit every resident to learn about their specific issues and carry out a property inspection. We have already visited 182 of the residents in Evelyn Court so far. This has been useful and allowed us to order necessary repairs and better understand residents’ issues.
  • We carried out work on the sewers and drainage on the estate. We had the worst parts surveyed using CCTV and are taking the action recommended. Our contractors are on site fixing gutters, hoppers, downpipes, holes and cracks in the render. This will help keep rainwater off the outside walls and prevent damp.

Evelyn Court

We had been aware of ongoing issues with damp and mould and had been dealing with individual cases as they’d arisen. The damp and mould issues are mainly due to the age and construction of the estate. IDS has a portfolio of heritage blocks of different types, and while some of these are of striking and important designs, it does mean it is more challenging in terms of repairs and maintenance. There are many other properties built in the 1930s of the same architectural style as Evelyn Court throughout London, and we are aware of a significant number of those facing the same issues.

While we have been proactively repairing individual cases as they were reported to us, we have been concentrating our already constrained budgets towards upgrading the fire safety features on the estate, which can save lives on a large scale. This in no way diminishes the importance of the damp and mould problems, which remain an important part of our ongoing repairs and management programme at Evelyn Court.

We have had our minds focused by our residents and vow to instil within our teams an ongoing culture of prompt and positive action towards repairs requests and complaints.

Funding

We are obliged to prioritise everyone’s safety in the block (gas, fire etc) for obvious reasons. We take day-to-day repairs seriously as our ongoing programme evidences. However, our funding will only go so far, and we are glad we have had these concerns at Evelyn Court raised, as we would not have necessarily been made aware of them otherwise.

The housing association sector is heavily regulated and governed. Any surplus we make is reinvested into capital projects for our residents. Our budgets are maintained in line with financial regulations. The expenditure restriction is due to our loan covenants which means we have been constrained on what we could spend. We are currently in discussions with lenders to release more money for us to use on improving our properties.

Communications

As with plenty of organisations, public and private, large and small, communications can always be better. We conducted a communications audit in the latter half of last year and are currently working our way through the recommendations of the report. We know we can improve. We have a new Interim Chief Executive leading the management team and changes are already being felt throughout the organisation.

Some of the Evelyn Court residents’ issues were already on our agenda, such as setting up a Residents Association and regular estate meetings. Last year we instigated a series of regular Estate Surgeries where residents can meet with block managers, rents, and repairs team members, to talk to us about concerns. We will listen and we will put things right.

  • We instigated a newsletter specifically for residents at Evelyn Court which has already been delivered to each home.
  • We will update residents regularly on news relating to the estate.
  • The newsletter contained photos and contact numbers for each member of the team involved in the management of Evelyn Court, so residents know who to get in touch with if they have further issues.
  • We have opened the Estate Office daily and any issue – rent, repairs, welfare – can be reported for action.
  • We have set up a new Out of Hours Emergency Repairs Service so residents can always contact us when our offices are closed and be reassured their issue will be dealt with effectively.

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