Tenants turfed out of tower block due to safety fears

St Peter's House in Norwich. Pictured inset is Samuel Le Good, a partner at Abbot Fox

St Peter's House in Norwich. Pictured inset is Samuel Le Good, a partner at Abbot Fox - Credit: Archant/Abbot Fox

Droves of shocked tenants were abruptly evacuated from their apartment block in the middle of the night after the building was deemed unsafe.

Tenants of the privately-owned St Peter's House in Cattle Market Street were startled by a knock on the door at 10pm on Monday. 

On their doorsteps they found council officers telling them to get out of the building immediately.

People living in the 53 apartments were told to leave their belongings inside and were escorted on to the street with no idea where they'd be sleeping.

Some were placed in emergency accommodation by the council.

Correspondence to tenants from the city council - seen by the Evening News - states there are "serious hazards and deficiencies" with the building which has no mains power and multiple fault lights on the fire alarm panel. 

It adds that there are numerous fire hazards including the main stairwell which is "not sufficiently protected". 

A power generator was also reportedly being used to generate electricity on-site.

Notices sent to tenants informing them about the evacuation of St Peter's House 

Notices sent to tenants informing them about the evacuation of St Peter's House - Credit: Ben Hardy

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A city council spokeswoman said: "St Peter’s House was deemed unsafe to live in after the power supply to the building was switched off by UK Power Networks. The council’s action had the full support of the fire service.

"The council re-housed 17 households in emergency overnight accommodation on Monday and has continued to advise and home those eligible to live in a council property.

"The council will work with the building owner to look into matters further and will continue to work with other key organisations, such as the fire service and building control, to get a clearer understanding of the landlord’s responsibilities to ensure the building is safe to live in."

The council would not confirm the name of the owner of the building.

Councillor Beth Jones (Lab), cabinet member for private sector housing strategy and enforcement, said: "The city council will continue to take a robust approach to tackle the standards in private sector housing across the city.

Beth Jones, Labour city councillor. Pic: Labour Party.

Beth Jones, Labour city councillor. Pic: Labour Party. - Credit: Submitted

“Safe and secure accommodation must be a right, not a privilege."

A spokesman for UK Power Networks said they attended the property after tenants raised fears about a generator being used to provide power. 

"For safety reasons, we have isolated this supply to protect the residents and are working closely with the city council to help resolve." 

Security guards were outside the entrance to the building this week to ensure tenants did not return.

Two women from Great Yarmouth aged 24 and 25, who did not wish to be named, were among those evacuated having moved into their two-bed apartment in January at a cost of £1,100 per month. 

They said: "What we have endured over the last few months is barbaric.

"We should never have been allowed in that building at all. At least there were no serious injuries. We had no idea where we were going." 

Another tenant aged 21, who also did not wish to be named, said working from home as a call centre operator had proved challenging due to the number of power cuts since he moved in. 

St Peter's House in Cattle Market Street

St Peter's House in Cattle Market Street - Credit: Ben Hardy

Samuel Le Good, a partner at Abbot Fox said: "We have offered support to our tenants during and after and we will continue to provide ongoing support.

"We insisted that the landlord repays any future rents paid in advance and damage deposits which they have agreed to do. 

"We have also encouraged them to offer compensation to all tenants affected."

Samuel Le Good, a partner at abbotFox. Pic: abbotFox

Samuel Le Good, a partner at abbotFox. Pic: abbotFox

Estate agent Haart has also come under criticism for its response but said: "We were only made aware of the council prohibition notice two days ago.

"We are working with the landlord to achieve a quick resolution and have requested that any rent paid upfront is refunded for the time remaining on the property tenancy.

"Our role as the managing agent is to liaise between the landlord and tenants and we are relying on the landlord to provide instructions relating to the matter in hand."

St Peter's House in Norwich 

St Peter's House in Norwich - Credit: Ben Hardy