£7.5m needed to bring mould-ridden Muirhouse flats up to standard

The city council has been warned that it “risks creating a two-tier community” in Muirhouse after tenants have been moved from six tower blocks amid damp and mouldy living conditions.

Saturday, 30th March 2019, 9:33 am
Updated Saturday, 30th March 2019, 9:38 am
Issue: Tenants have been moved from 6 Muirhouse blocks. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Housing chiefs say they need around £7.5 million to bring the six council-run blocks in the north of the Capital up to standard. A total of 13 tenants have been temporarily moved, including four from the ninth floor of Inchmickery Court due to roof problems.

Last year, tenant union Living Rent revealed that at least 40 tenants at six high-rise council flats in Muirhouse were putting up with damp, mould and asbestos risk, leading to an investigation by the council.

The council asked the tenants to contact them if their home required work. Of these, 80 per cent have work that was needed, following surveys. Out of 134 surveys carried out, dampness work has been completed at 64 properties, while another 24 cases are with contractors.

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Liberal Democrat ward Cllr Kevin Lang said: “It is shocking that over 80 per cent of the high rise flats surveyed in Muirhouse have needed repairs, with major works required in a significant number of cases. There are serious questions as to how such a massive backlog was allowed to build up.

“Muirhouse is currently going through a transformation, with thousands of new homes being built and an exciting new shopping centre. However, the council’s failure to address long standing issues in existing housing, particularly in the high rise flats, risks creating a two-tier community.”

Future updates will be presented to the council’s housing and economy committee following the north-west locality committee being wound down on Thursday. The council insists that funding will be provided to improve the homes.

Cllr Kate Campbell, housing and economy convener, said: “It’s not surprising that where people got in contact because they thought they needed a repair, a high percentage of those cases now have repair work being progressed.

“We’re still making every effort to contact tenants and make it easy for them to report any issues they might have.”

She added: “What’s really important though is the investment we are making. We have ringfenced £7.5m to improve our existing properties in Muirhouse with works including energy efficiency improvements, heating upgrades, kitchens and bathrooms, new windows and doors, renewal of roofs, cladding, neighbourhood improvements and placemaking.”

Two tenants have been decanted from Oxcars Court, six from Inchmickery Court, one from Birnies Court, one from May Court and three from Gunnet Court. No tenants turned up for an engagement session organised by the council earlier this month and additional leafleting and promotion of future sessions will take place.