Almost 90 per cent of Muirhouse tower block flats that have been surveyed need repair work, an investigation by Edinburgh City Council has revealed.
In September 2018, residents from six council-run tower blocks spoke out about the poor living conditions – largely down to mould and damp in their homes.
The initial investigation by tenant union, Living Rent, found that at least 40 tenants were putting up with damp, mould and asbestos risk.
The city council will invest £7.5m over the next five years to improve the quality of the tower blocks – but an updated report by officers has laid bare the extent of the issues being suffered by residents. The authority has gained access to 121 properties in the six blocks – of which 108 require work.
A report to the council’s north west locality committee warned: “This ranges from repair of the ventilator fans to problems with internal stack, cold bridging from balconies and walkways and a build-up of condensation due to living conditions.”
Fears have been raised that the council has only gained access to 34 per cent of all the flats in the six blocks – leading to concerns about how deep the poor living conditions could run.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Kevin Lang said: “This new report unveils the sheer scale of the problems in the high rise flats in Muirhouse.
“As a local councillor, I’ve seen properties first-hand with damp, mould and crumbling ceilings. This official report now shows just how widespread the issues are, with almost all of the properties surveyed in need of repair work. I am pleased officers are now addressing this as an urgent priority.
“Nevertheless, there are serious questions as to how the situation in Muirhouse was allowed to get so bad. It took tenants coming to a council committee and breaking down in tears before a serious action plan was put in place. This can never be allowed to happen again.”
The council has attempted to make contact with all tenants. North west locality officers have delivered leaflets on two occasions asking tenants to contact the council if they have any issues – while all flats have had their door knocked to check if there are any repairs issues.
A newsletter has been delivered to all tenants, informing them of a dedicated number to call if they have any issues. A weekly drop-in session has also been provided over an eight-week period to allow tenants to report repairs.
Housing and economy convener Cllr Kate Campbell said the council wants to ensure all tenants have “the best quality of life in a home that is warm, safe and that they can afford.”
She added: “We’ve been working hard to identify problems in the Muirhouse tower blocks and have made several attempts to contact every home in the area.
“We’ve been able to get into homes where tenants told us they were having problems and are now working with them to carry out any necessary repairs. I’d encourage tenants who haven’t already contacted us about issues in their homes to get in touch so we can do the same for them.”
Cllr Campbell insisted: “This work is part of our broader commitment to speed up investment in council housing, not just in Muirhouse but also across the city.”