On Fire

Half Mag / Half Zine

Inside a block of flats is ‘a disaster waiting to happen’ and people refuse to live there.

Renters have had their homes broken into and vandalised and struggled without a working lift for four years.

A tenant who once worked for the building’s maintenance team said the lift had been out of action for years.

Manchester Evening News told how they suffered a raft of other problems which included hot water not being available.

“People are saying they will not live there [in viewings] and it’s having an effect on the landlords,” an insider, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

“It’s a disaster waiting to happen and it is getting closer and closer.”

The flats at Bracken House are popular with students because they are near Manchester University’s North Campus.

Inspired Property Management (IPM), who oversee the building, says the issue of break-ins has ‘eased’ with a raft of measures being put in place.

But former tenant Dan, who left the block after five years, said it has got ‘harder and harder to live in the building’.

He added: “Five years ago the lift was working and we had fire marshals that patrolled the building. There was a staff of four people on patrol. In 2018 or 2019 the lift [broke] and has not since.

“I was on the sixth floor — it does not have a fourth floor — so I had to walk.

“It got harder and harder to live in the building. The hot water does not always work because there are only two boilers.

“The major issue was at the end of last year. They replaced the fire marshals with heat alarms so there was no one managing security and things were stolen and trash was being left downstairs.

“Homeless people started sleeping in the corridors and the boiler room. I had a storage unit which I rented in the basement that was broken into.”

Dan also reported that access can be gained to the roof due to a broken lock, which IPM says has now been fixed. Photos from the inside of the building also show vandalism to communal areas like post-boxes.

IPM and freeholder Grey GR Limited Partnership said: “When wider industry and regulatory failings around building construction and standards became apparent,

“Grey took proactive steps to appoint independent surveyors and fire safety experts to assess building safety measures across its portfolio including Bracken House.

“Following those surveys and in consultation with Greater Manchester Fire Service it was determined that a waking watch service was required at Bracken House, as a mitigation measure for the fire risks present.

“Grey immediately took action to meet the request. Grey has been, and continues to be, committed to carrying out the necessary remedial works and an application to the Government’s Building Safety Fund is underway.

A mains linked fire alarm system was installed as an alternative mitigation measure.

The firm said it was working closely with Greater Manchester Police and Manchester City Council regarding the issue of homeless people trying to gain access to the basement area.

A spokesman added: “I am happy to report that the issue has somewhat eased over the last fortnight after a short period of trouble.

“The basement area has been secured and we have a new basement door on order following criminal damage.

“The police have added this building to a list of other buildings that PCSOs patrol now they are aware of the issue.”