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Tenant vandalism blamed for delays to Camden council-flat repairs

PUBLISHED: 13:13 20 August 2012

Cllr Julian Fulbrook

Cllr Julian Fulbrook

Archant

Council tenants who suffer from 'Samson syndrome', in which they rip out fixtures and fittings before leaving their flats, are causing delays to re-letting council homes, Camden's housing chief has revealed.

Cllr Julian Fulbrook said flats and houses may be in good a condition before tenants are moved out, but they can vandalise properties when they leave, making the clean-up job more difficult for Camden Council.

The housing chief recently saw a house where the entire fitted kitchen had been ripped to sheds.

He said: “Over the years there have been cases where angry ex-tenants take out their annoyance on the fabric, causing very severe damage. This is sadly often an instance of retaliatory vandalism.

“If they take fixtures and fittings this is of course theft, but it is very unlikely to be worth suing or prosecuting such miscreants. An additional factor that is vital is to secure premises after the exit of tenants, as void properties can be prone to squatting.”

Council houses can stay empty for months at a time.

Last week the Ham&High reported on an empty flat in West Hampstead that was covered in scaffolding for four months with no sign of work being carried out.

Cllr Fulbrook admitted there had been “several such disasters”.

“It is exasperating when such matters are not picked up and dealt with expeditiously,” he said. “But I suppose human error exists in all bureaucracies from time to time.

“It is also galling to know that scaffolding companies habitually find it cheaper to ‘warehouse’ their equipment by leaving it up on council properties, rather than dismantling it.”

Council figures show that 472 council homes stand empty across the borough, down from 752 last December, and it takes on average six weeks for a council house to be turned around for new tenants.

But Cllr Fulbrook said this was “never quick enough” adding it was a “helpful yardstick for improving performance but an average never tells the whole story”.

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