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Insurers criticised for storms repair work

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 19, 2014

By Tina Rowe

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A month after their apartment block was evacuated when part of the roof was blown off during terrifying winter storms, residents say their situation is worsening.

The roof was blown off part of Heron Court, West Bay, in Dorset on Valentine's Day, but a month after the storm rain was still entering some homes and residents have blamed insurers Aviva for their continuing misery.

Two tenants have had to move out.

Mrs Jacqui Lovett had to move into the nearby George Hotel more than two weeks after the storm, because rainwater was damaging electrics and personal possessions and her ceiling was on the point of collapse.

"I came home on March 2 and water was pouring through the ceiling into my wardrobe and into the kitchen," she said.

Nic Flanagan, who owns a two-bedroom apartment and rents it out said a promise to pay for rehousing his tenants was withdrawn.

"Our tenants were brilliant. They used buckets and bowls to catch the rainwater, but this has been going on for a month now.

"People's welfare is being ignored," he said.

Five apartments are affected.

Ros Kayes, Dorset county councillor for Bridport and Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman for West Dorset said: "The state of some people's homes down there is simply abysmal, and they've received pretty short shrift from those supposed to help them.

"The worst thing of all is the failure of the insurance company to take responsibility for rehousing those people whose flats have been judged by a surveyor to be uninhabitable.

"One resident, who has been signed off work with stress, is not only paying for alternative accommodation out of her own pocket but is still paying her landlord rent for her uninhabitable property, for fear of being in breach of her tenancy.

"One month on and the human cost to these residents is unacceptable. Aviva need to get their act together."

Aviva told the Western Daily Press: "We are very sorry about the service received by the residents of Heron Court following the recent storm claim.

"We will be offering to pay for alternative accommodation for those affected and we will be contacting them directly to confirm this.

"We have conducted a survey to establish the full extent of repairs needed, and we will accelerate these repairs so that people are back in their homes as quickly as possible."

Mr Kayes added: "This is a complex situation with some rental tenancies, some home owners and some buy-to-let holiday accommodation. There's been clear confusion between this range of people by Aviva with them all being treated differently.

"It's important that everyone is treated fairly. Let's hope Aviva stay true to this commitment and don't reverse it again."

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