Residents at an Anchor Hanover retirement property have been up in arms after being told they have to pay for a new £114,000 fire alarm system.
Almost 40 people at the 45-flat sheltered housing scheme signed a petition after the housing provider told residents at Guardian Court in York in May they would need to pay £2,000 each to replace an old fire alarm system, the York Press reported.
The residents argued the costs should have been met by existing monthly maintenance and service fees.
Their stance was backed by York Central MP, Rachael Maskell, who accused Anchor Hanover of making a “significant departure from residents’ contracts”.
Resident Fen Tarbitt, 63, said: “They pushed this through so quickly. Many of the residents are in their 80s. All they’ve got is their pensions. They’ve had sleepless nights since that letter.
“My point to them is why are we paying for this? We’re paying a service of £200 a month which pays for the maintenance of everything in the building, the aerial on the roof, the communal kitchen; we’re paying for the gardening, the window washing. What are we paying £350 a month for on top of that?”
Joanne Hanson, Regional Head of Housing for Anchor Hanover, said: “The wellbeing and safety of our residents is our highest priority. We have a duty of care as a responsible registered housing provider to ensure that our buildings are safe, fit for purpose and have emergency systems in place in order to protect residents, which includes a fire alarm system. We have identified that the fire alarm system at Guardian Court needs replacing, which is necessary to ensure the continued safety of our residents and to comply with fire safety regulations.
“The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 gives clear guidance to landlords on what can and what cannot be included in a service charge and we continue to follow these guidelines. Service charges go towards the costs of providing and maintaining services and benefits to residents, beyond the occupation of their own home.
“We held a meeting with the residents of Guardian Court on 4 August at which we explained the rationale behind our decision to replace the fire alarm system and confirmed the specification for the new installation. A start on site date has yet to be agreed.
“We fully appreciate the anxiety that any increase in costs may have for residents and on this basis, we have agreed in the case of Guardian Court that we will extend the repayment period of the fire alarm installation from 15 years to 20 years to mitigate the increase in costs. In addition, we will continue to offer support to any resident through our Be Wise service.”