Landlord promises to replace heating systems, if found inadequate

SOCIAL housing provider Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association (BPHA) has promised to remove and replace heating systems in St Neots homes if the outcome of a final, independent survey finds the systems inadequate.

John Cross, Chief Executive of BPHA, made the commitment in a letter written to all BPHA tenants living in Kier homes at Love’s Farm last week.

The letter follows months of agony for BPHA tenants whose homes were fitted with the Swedish NIBE heating systems.

The Hunts Post reported last week how families claimed they were being forced into fuel poverty after being made to pay between �200 and �300 per month to heat their homes.

But in the letter, dated February 3, Mr Cross

• Apologised to residents for a lack of communication on the NIBE boiler issue

• Promised one final survey by an independent body to ascertain whether the heating system is regarded as adequate

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• Pledged to replace the NIBE heating system in consultation with the tenant should the survey find it inadequate, and

• Committed itself to help residents manage their excessive heating bills

Resident Sam Claussen, of Bargroves Avenue, whom The Hunts Post interviewed last week, said she was heartened by the letter, but there was still a long way to go.

“I understand what they are trying to do, but it doesn’t help me now,” she said. “It’s a time issue. This survey means it’s yet longer to wait struggling to survive – waiting for the child benefit to come in so we can heat our home.

“I’m generally happy with the response from BPHA, but this is literally taking over my life. I just want it sorted once and for all.”

This view is echoed on the NIBE Problems Facebook Page, set up by Jaime Dickinson, of Paddock Close, Love’s Farm.

“People are fuming,” he told The Hunts Post. “What they’re saying in that letter doesn’t make sense to most people. We’ve had letters like this and people coming round before, but at the end of the day the majority of people are on a meter and can see it whirring around to the tune of �10 a day.

“They just can’t afford it and are very sceptical.”

A spokesman for BPHA told The Hunts Post: “We have promised that, if these surveys show the systems are not adequate, we will replace them, if that is what residents want. We know that residents are frustrated, and resolving the issues they are experiencing with their heating systems is being dealt with as a matter of urgency.

“But there are also legal complexities, which is why further surveys have been commissioned.

“We are acutely aware of the financial situation that some residents are in and are urgently working on a solution.”