Sheltered accommodation residents say they are being asked to foot the £40,000 bill for “unnecessary” improvements to their homes against their will.
Residents say the expensive fire safety improvements are being forced through by managing agents Anchor Housing after they ignored pleas for mediation to resolve the issue.
Representatives for the retirement home firm say the changes are designed to protect the residents and to meet their legal objectives.
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A new computerised alarm system costing £20,000 has already been installed and fire doors are to be replaced at further cost of £20,000 despite the residents’ objections.
Residents association chairman Lionel Neill claimed the new system will alert Anchor staff 340 miles away in Newcastle when The Glebe home is less than a mile from the nearest fire station in Hurstpierpoint.
Mr Neill, 84, added the current fire doors already met the required level of safety and did not need to be replaced.
The grandfather-of-five said the cost of the fire safety improvements would have to be shared between 28 residents at the home, some of whom are 90 years old and infirm.
He added that residents had asked to enter arbitration with the firmto resolve the issue and had sent a dossier of the dispute to the Association of Retirement Housing Managers but work began on January 6.
Mr Neill said: “We have money put by because it comes out of our service charge but this fund is intended for when something actually goes wrong like the roof collapsing or roof tiles being blown off.
“These works have been announced as a fait accompli, no discussion or questioning was countenanced.”
Christine Schenck, district manager of The Glebe, said: “The safety of our residents is paramount and that’s why we are making these improvements while also complying with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 following a fire risk assessment.
“The new fire alarm systems will further protect our residents in their homes.
“Our property team have met on several occasions with residents to explain the works being carried out and they have also received written confirmation of our legal requirement to carry out these improvements.”