Residents living at six high rise blocks of council flats in Muirhouse held a protest as councillors and officers visited the community, after damp, mouldy conditions were laid bare at last month’s Housing and Economy Committee.
The event, put together by tenant union Living Rent, saw angry scenes as residents demanded action to improve living conditions at Gunnet Court, Fidra Court, Birnies Court, Inchmickery Court, Oxcars Court and May Court.
Conservatives have called for urgent action by the council and accused the administration of “losing focus” on ensuring their tenants live in safe conditions.
Maddie Barink, organiser for Living Rent, said: “It’s very upsetting when you see the conditions these people are living in and how long it’s taking them to get through to the council. There has been so many attempts to get the council to listen.
“We all understand that these things take time but there is a reasonable amount of time for these things. If private landlords were subjecting tenants to these conditions, they would face legal action.
“It’s not just this council, but others around the country. Really, it’s an institutional problem that needs to be addressed.”
As part of the council’s commitment to invest around £500 million to bring existing council homes and neighbourhoods up to new-build standard over the next 15 years, a strategy to modernise the six blocks has been identified and the work is already underway.
Housing and Economy Convener, Cllr Kate Campbell, said: “I was glad to have the opportunity to talk to residents directly to and to hear from them about the issues they are facing.
“As we build lots of new homes it is really important that we invest in our existing housing stock to bring it up to a high standard as well. This is already planned and getting the work done is a priority for us.
“But while we work on the larger scale projects, we will also be making sure that repairs are being done to individual homes.”
Conservative ward Cllr Graham Hutchison, will put forward an emergency motion at next week’s North West Locality Committee, calling on council officers to examine the situation.
He said: “There were some fairly alarming incidents revealed. There was a resident who had a ceiling collapse in his property and he was hoovering it up himself for several months.
“I have always been reassured it was not a widespread problem but it does seem to be a bigger problem than first thought.
“One of the main concerns is the residents don’t have any single point of emergency contact to deal with any issue. Some emergency issues can take three days or longer.”
He added: “I’m glad to see residents are getting together and realising they are maybe not alone in the issues and starting to coordinate their efforts.
“There’s obviously a lot of new houses being built but I think the council has lost focus on its existing housing stock and making sure these houses are liveable.”