A TENANT has described her ‘two-week nightmare’ after battling with a housing association to keep newly-installed windows – which they wanted to rip back out.
Denise Blake hit out at Gentoo after they installed “more attractive” glass panel windows, but then said she would not be allowed to keep them less than 24 hours later.
Ms Blake, who pays £420 per month, saw all the windows on her Marlborough Road home in Washington upgraded to full glass panels by Gentoo in March.
Replacing the half glass, half plastic variants, Ms Blake said the new windows had “transformed” her home, allowing extra light after years of “dingy” conditions.
But a two-week battle ensued after Gentoo told Ms Blake that they would have to come out, and replaced with the old style because they were not “uniform” across the estate.
However after contacting Gentoo, the housing association has told The Northern Echo it has apologised to Ms Blake, saying it has allowed her to keep the windows.
Ms Blake said: “They put the new windows in and I absolutely loved them – the whole house was no longer dark and gloomy, it transformed it.
“Then Gentoo said I couldn’t keep them as they are not uniform with the rest of the estate.”
The resident, who has lived there for the past twelve years, said her neighbours and contractors had been left dumbfounded over the need to remove them.
She said: “They have been continuing to put them into people’s homes – a lot of the residents love them just the same way as I do.
“They want to keep them, they have even spent hundreds on new blinds and curtains to go with them.
“We’ve even spoken to the contractors putting them in, and they couldn’t understand what is going on.”
Ms Blake, who said Gentoo had provided her with a series of “excuses” when querying why she could not keep the windows, claimed she had been threatened with court action.
She said: “When I kept ringing them to find out what was happening, they kept coming up with different excuses.
“They said another issue is privacy, but that’s what blinds and curtains are for – they said they were unsafe, but then the glass is toughened and it says that on every window.
“I told them I’d rather you’d left my house the way it is, this is totally unncessary – I said I’m refusing to let the contractors in.
“Then they threatened me with court action, saying I’ll have to pay a £400 court fine – they said they wouldn’t even give me a warning, and it would be going straight to court.”
Describing the situation as unfair, Ms Blake accused Gentoo of “wasting money” as she said she had been told the windows would end up in the skip.
She added: “The windows make all the difference, this has just made me stressed – I’ve cried, I’ve gone down every avenue that you can think of to keep them.”
In response, Gentoo told The Northern Echo that it had apologised to Ms Blake for distress caused, as they moved to offer assurances that its tenants would not have faced court action over the issue.
Louise Bassett, Executive Director of Corporate Services at Gentoo Group, said: “We apologise for any distress that has been caused by a clear mistake from a sub-contractor working on our behalf.
“We have spoken to Ms Blake and assured her the lower glazed panels can stay in place on a permanent basis. We can also assure tenants that this issue would never have resulted in court action.
“PVC windows are installed as part of Gentoo’s standard specification. The lower glazing that has been mistakenly installed, despite not being standard specification, does meet all necessary health and safety regulations.
“All future properties included in our window replacement scheme in this area will have the standard PVC panels installed to the lower sections of their windows.
“We are directly contacting impacted tenants in the area and we apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.”