Landlord hopes to have city tenants rehomed within two weeks

St Peter's House in Cattle Market Street. Pictured inset is Lesley Burdett, strategic lead for Norwich Shelter 

St Peter's House in Cattle Market Street. Pictured inset is Lesley Burdett, strategic lead for Norwich Shelter - Credit: Archant

The landlord of a city centre apartment block hopes to have the building back up and running within two weeks after an emergency evacuation last week.

St Peter's House, in Cattle Market Street, was deemed unsafe by the city council with all the people living in the 53 apartments forced to move out last Monday around 10pm. 

The building was found to have "serious hazards and deficiencies" after the former Aviva building's electrics were not connected in line with a residential development.

Ori Calif, of GWO & Co, who is an adviser to the landlord of St Peter's House, said they are waiting to hear back from UK Power Networks and the city council for a schedule of work following the evacuation. 

He said the current landlord, Cattle Market Limited, called the council to inspect the building after the previous contractor did not have the correct building control certificate for St Peter's House to become residential.

Mr Calif said it was only after taking on the property that the current landlord realised an appropriate certificate had not been signed off.

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

The adviser said: "We have a commitment to people and we are suffering a lot of losses while this building is vacant so we are doing everything we can to rectify it. 

"As soon as we get the cooperation from the council and a schedule of work, we believe this can be sorted within a maximum of two weeks." 

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The landlord is in the process of refunding some of the tenants who have now fully moved out.

Mr Calif said: "We are going to write off most of the payments and not charge them for that. We will give proportional rent out when the tenants have checked out and returned their key." 

St Peter's House in Norwich 

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

Among those who were evacuated is Michael Hans, 22, and his 21-year-old boyfriend who had no choice but to pay £600 for Airbnb accommodation so they had a temporary roof over their heads. 

Mr Hans recalled being left to spend the night in "appalling conditions" in Dereham upon being evacuated. 

He said: "We could not sleep because of the smell and it was one of the lowest points of my life. We did not dare take our shoes off or have a shower because of the state of it." 

A spokeswoman for the city council has confirmed they will not be using this venue again in the future after seeing it was left in "an unacceptable state".  

She added: "The situation at St Peters House meant we needed to find emergency accommodation for tenants at very short notice during the busy Easter holiday period, which meant we needed to book some commercial properties outside of our usual providers."

The young couple have now paid around £850 up front to move into a new home through estate agents Abbot Fox. 

St Peter's House in Cattle Market Street 

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

Meanwhile, homeless charity Shelter is offering free and impartial advice to anyone affected.

Lesley Burdett, Shelter's strategic lead for Norwich, said: "We are in the middle of a homeless and housing crisis in this country and action needs to be taken to find a solution to the shortage of housing.

Lesley Burdett, hub manager for Shelter Norfolk

Lesley Burdett, hub manager for Shelter Norfolk - Credit: Shelter

"I am not finger pointing at the council and they acted as we would expect them to when they found out about it, but it is concerning when these situations arise.  

"It's why we need to build more council houses but that's not going to happen overnight.

"St Peter's House is sadly not the first one we have been in contact with. It's a worrying trend." 

Norwich estate agent Stuart Harris, managing director of Arlington Park, said: "We have known about this block of flats for a while and our electrical contractor made us aware to avoid it, as they had quoted the London developer tens of thousands of pounds to make the electrics compliant." 

Norwich estate agent Stuart Harris, managing director of Arlington Park

Norwich estate agent Stuart Harris, managing director of Arlington Park - Credit: Arlington Park

The city council is working with the fire service and building control, to get a clearer understanding of the landlord’s responsibilities.

It also provided 17 households with temporary accommodation on the night of the evacuation, as well as taxis and food provision where required. 

Contact norfolk@shelter.org.uk or visit https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice to receive support from Shelter.