LEDBURY Estate tenants are still paying rent for their unsafe homes despite the lack of running hot water, heating or cooking facilities after the gas was switched off last week over safety fears.
Five hundred residents on the south-east London estate have been living without basic facilities since an investigation into the structure of the blocks revealed that they could collapse in the event of a gas explosion.
Despite the potential severity of the risks, Southwark Council announced earlier this week that refurbishment work would not be carried out until next year and tenants could remain in the blocks until then.
“If you know the buildings are not safe, why are you making me live there and pay rent?” one frustrated tenant asked at a community meeting in Peckham on Thursday night.
“I can’t sleep at night because I’m scared the building will fall on me.”
Those who wish to leave the estate permanently have been given “band one” priority but must still bid for properties, which can be a lengthy process.
The Ledbury Action Group is demanding that the council suspend tenants’ rents until the blocks are made safe.
Ledbury Action Group spokesperson Hannan Majid told the Star: “Residents are living in unsafe homes. They have no hot water, no gas and no heating.
“In these uncertain times, residents should not be burdened with having to pay rent.”
He stressed that tenants are demanding a suspension, rather than staging a rent strike, as withholding payment could damage their chances when applying for homes.
During the meeting, Southwark Council was repeatedly criticised for its handling of the situation, with attendees voting unanimously that they were unhappy with the response.
None of the councillors who were called to attend did so because they were on holiday.
Responding to a written demand to suspend tenants’ rent, the council said: “Rent will continue to be due as residents have not lost their home.”