A social housing provider has yet to meet its legal duty to fix ‘hazards’ at a Worthing property – despite issues being flagged a year ago.
Worthing Borough Council has been negotiating with Hyde over safety issues at Kingsway, in George V Avenue, since last January.
The parties failed to reach an agreement in 2016 and in a surprise move over the festive period, Hyde issued eviction notices to 16 tenants.
An urgent meeting on Tuesday identified a way forward – following intervention from councillors.
A Worthing Borough Council spokesman said: “The councils have a responsibility to ensure that landlords meet their legal obligations to enable them to carry out any required improvements in order to meet regulations and ensure tenant safety.
“The council has been in discussion with Hyde since early 2016 in order to establish the best way of achieving this goal. As of Tuesday, it is hopeful that a managed approach to dealing with the building issues that have been identified will achieve this.”
Kingsway serves as temporary accommodation, with tenants placed by the council following stays in emergency housing.
The council said it became aware of ‘further hazards’ when inspecting one property, following a complaint over damp.
It said a lack of a fire escape – placing the property in the highest risk category – triggered its duty to investigate all flats within the building. It then sought agreement from Hyde for improvements throughout.
Marine ward councillor Paul Yallop was alerted when Hyde served section 21 notices – the first stage of an eviction process – shortly after Christmas.
In a letter to Hyde, he called for the notices to be rescinded, claiming residents were being used as ‘pawns’ in Hyde’s negotiations.
He called for the provider to ‘use some of its £95million profits’ to ensure the property was ‘fit for habitation’.
He wrote: “This appears to be the worst abuse by a social housing provider that I have seen in my ten years as an elected councillor.”
In response, a Hyde spokesman said it was ‘disappointed’ with Mr Yallop’s remarks.
They said their long-standing support for the council with Kingsway had become ‘unsustainable’ due to the cost of improving the property’s quality.
Hyde head of housing Tony Morgan said: “We have agreed a way forward which includes doing some works, however the section 21 notices remain as we work with the council to arrive at a long-tern solution to these residents’ housing needs.”