Residents of an East Finchley estate left without a gas supply for months are seeking compensation from the group managing supply for ‘considerable debts’ racked up at the time.
A faulty meter led the National Grid to shut down gas supply in Strawberry Vale for safety reasons in January this year, but when the meter was replaced housing association, the Peabody Trust, did not restore gas to the area.
Around 240 homes were left without hot water or heating, leading them to use electric cookers and heaters, which proved a considerably more expensive alternative.
Now law firm Hodge Jones & Allen is helping five residents apply for a group litigation order (GLO) against Peabody for compensation and a successful application will allow 49 other residents to claim.
They hope to receive compensation for the expensive measures the situation forced them to take, as many residents are pensioners, on benefits or low incomes and could not afford living without gas.
Chair of the Strawberry Vale residents association Laurence Williamson said: “A landlord responsible for the homes of hundreds of people deprived them of their gas supply, a basic service that they depended on to cook with.
“At one point the Red Cross came to the estate with hot meals for residents.
“This was all during the winter months, affecting vulnerable people’s health and leaving many with considerable debts.”
It has also been revealed Peabody had not obtained an essential Gas Safety Case when it took over the estate’s gas supply in 1998 and they were issued with an improvement notice by the health and safety executive in March to make the necessary changes.
Jayesh Kunwardia, partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, said: “Not only did the Peabody Trust fail to provide a valid reason for the gas supply to hundreds of homes being switched off in the first place, it is now clear there were historic breaches of regulations by running the gas supply at this estate without the correct safety procedures in place.”
The Peabody Trust said they ‘proactively worked’ to restore gas supply to the estate which required access to each home individually in order to purge air from gas supply lines.
The stressed while they manage the gas supply, they do not supply the gas themselves and said heating and hot water were unaffected for most households.
Executive director of asset strategy and delivery for Peabody Pauline Ford said: “We acknowledge the significant inconvenience caused by the disruption in the supply of gas.
“In recognition of this, we made ex gratia payments to residents and appointed a dedicated resident liaison officer to manage the reconnection process.
“We offered to mediate with those residents who are pursuing litigation but this has been declined.
“The matter will therefore be decided by the courts.”
The Group Litigation Order hearing will take place on Thursday, October 27 at Central London County Court in Strand.