The diagram above shows a cross section of a typical 3 story brick building such as the HHGE flats built before 1950 in London. The outer structural walls are constructed of two rows of bricks with a cavity between them. In between them is a “suspended timber floor hanging from the structural walls. Beneath the timber floor is a void (empty space) above a layer of poor quality concrete (oversite) on top of the original earth. This oversite concrete is porous to water and if the ground is wet the oversite concrete will also be damp and the air in the void will also be damp with a high moisture content. In winter when the central heating is working the warm air will rise pulling up air from the void below the floor. This damp air will then exacerbate the condensation within the flat.
Does your HHGE flat suffer from damp or condensation problems?
Have you reported this to the HHGE block management?
Did Lloyd Paxton (PMA) or Ian Collier (HHGE Chairman) tell you that it was your fault & your problem?
SOME FACTS AS AT JANUARY 2021
- In May 2012 Lloyd Paxton’s personal business PMA took over the day-to-day management of the HHGE flats from Kinleigh Folkard Hayward. For the last 9 years PMA has been paid £60,000 p.a. to keep the flats in good repair.
- The PMA contract was never shown to the flat owners despite repeated promises. PMA never joined any property redress (complaints) scheme) as required by law from 01 Oct. 2014. Therefore from 01 Oct. 2014 to October 2020 PMA/ Paxton was operating illegally. Lloyd Paxton has no property management qualifications at all.
- Regular planned maintenance of gutters, drains and downpipes ceased in 2012.
- Repairs were only carried out if a resident complained repeatedly and then typically took 3 to 6 months to fix.
- Leaking gutters and downpipes ponding next to ground floor flats have been ignored for years.
- Downpipe hoppers become blocked up with leaves and plants resulting in water damage both externally and internally.
- Over half the 84 gullies which collect grey water (baths, sinks, showers) are cracked and leaking water under the wooden floors of ground floor flats.
- All the HHGE flats were built before 1950. There is no vapour barrier between the damp earth below the flat and the wooden floorboards. See below !
The HHGE flats were designed by architects in the 1930’s who made full provision for all rainwater and grey water (from baths, showers and sinks) to be removed away from the base of the new buildings. The HHGE flats are now over 80 years old. The soil on which the flats were built is London clay. Each summer the surface clay dries out and shrinks and each winter the clay absorbs water like a sponge and expands. The original drains and gullies were constructed of a mixture of brick, cement and concrete pipes. These rigid materials do not move when the clay moves as they have a much lower coefficient of expansion.
The inevitable result has been the development of numerous cracks in the drains and ceramic pipes which allow water from the building to escape into the clay soil next to and underneath the building. Good management would ensure that these cracked drains were upgraded to more flexible plastic pipes but this has not been done.
Condensation damage to a flat at Ayr Court on the HHGE resulting from a broken drain which flooded the soil underneath the flat. First reported in 2015. As of 2021 this broken drain has not been repaired.
This leaking downpipe at Oxford Court was left unrepaired for 3 years despite numerous complaints to the HHGE management.
YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AS A HHGE FLAT OWNER
Clause 4.5 in the HHGE Head Lease imposes a duty on the HHGE Directors to maintain, repair, replace and renew the communal drains, sewers, pipes and gutters on the HHGE.
Section 19 of the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act says that repairs and management services paid for out of service charge funds must be of reasonable cost and reasonable quality. If they are not of reasonable cost or quality, you can reclaim these costs.
On 19 October 2020 Lloyd Paxton /PMA resigned as HHGE Property Manager and was replaced by Ruvina Sekon of JFM Block Management. We welcome the appointment of Ruvina, a highly experienced and fully qualified professional property manager. The current plan is to apply the “Kenwood Solution” to condensation problems in ground floor flats. This involves the installation of two fans and two more air bricks costing each flat owner around £2,000+ per flat. For flats with woodworm problems (which typically associate with damp wood) the cost will be an additional £1,000 +
But why should flat owners pay for an expensive quick fix when the fundamental problem is due to the neglect of the HHGE Directors.
What Is Needed
1. Immediate repair of all the leaking roofs, gutters, downpipes, drains and gullies.
2. Industry standard service targets to repair all future roof, gutter and downpipe leaks immediately they occur not delayed indefinitely allowing damage to occur.
3. An immediate drains survey to be commissioned with the results made public.
4. A specialist surveyor to report on the contribution of leaking drains, blocked downpipes and broken gullies and water leaks to condensation problems within G/F flats.
5. The HHGE Directors responsible to be held to account for the problems and the untold damage and distress and neglect that they created over the last 9 years.
6. We are asking for the co-operation of all flat owners and JFM Management to bring a test case to the First Tier Property Tribunal on behalf of all HHGE owners of ground floor flats who have suffered damp damage.
If you own a ground floor flat and would like to participate in a collective effort to resolve the HHGE damp problems,
Contact us here