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Grenfell Tower fire: Exasperated survivor starts private search for housing two months after fire

Nicholas Burton, who is desperate for a home so his wife can be discharged from hospital, claims offers from the council are inadequate

A survivor of the Grenfell Tower fire says he has been forced to look for new homes privately, two months after the devastating fire.

Nicholas Burton spoke of his frustration at Kensington and Chelsea Council’s rehoming efforts, and said his dissatisfaction has led him to take matters into his own hands.

The Royal borough, which has been criticised for its response to the fire, said the vast majority of those who escaped the blaze, 158 households, remain in hotels, while no-one has yet secured permanent accommodation.

While all of those forced to leave the 24-storey block and nearby Grenfell Walk have since been offered temporary accommodation, only 23 families have been rehoused, while 22 others have accepted offers.

The situation is leaving leaseholder Mr Burton exasperated.

He fled his home on the 19th floor with his wife, and says the properties shown to him by the council are too far away or in a poor state of repair.

He said: “I could have put up every single family in 48 hours if you just go to the private sector.

"There are hundreds of flats in the estate agents but they don’t want to pay the money,” he told the Press Association.

“But they are paying the money because my five weeks in my hotel cost £12,990. I have the bill. They gave it to me by mistake.

“I had to go and get private accommodation because my wife is still in hospital and they will not give her to me unless we have a place to live.

 

“I am sure one or two other families have decided they cannot wait any more.

"Those with children have September coming shortly and they are going back to school - they do not want a hotel room.”

The 50-year-old said his lease stated that the council’s insurance would have to cover any rent in the event of his flat becoming uninhabitable.

A council spokesman said in many of these cases, residents “have the option to convert to permanent housing if they would like to”.

Theresa May initially said in the aftermath of the fire that she had “fixed a deadline of three weeks for everybody affected to be found a home nearby”.

Her comments were later clarified by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, who claimed the deadline was for every survivor to have received an offer for a temporary new home.

Homelessness charity Shelter, which has been working with survivors, said many people were staying in hotels because they were reluctant to move twice.

 

Head of policy and research Kate Webb said: “I think a lot of people are not ready to think about moving into temporary accommodation - they want time to grieve and they want a permanent home.”

Displaced residents were given a promise by the council that they would be rehoused permanently within 12 months.

Bereaved families will be prioritised during this process, along with those suffering from serious mental, physical or learning disabilities and those in need of a carer.

A spokesman for the council said: “It will take a long time for offers to be accepted because of the highly emotional state of those we need to house and the complexity of their needs.

“It is a painstaking process and one that requires understanding of families traumatised by the fire.

“It involves not only finding the right property for a family but also making sure emotional and psychological support, schooling, education and health support is provided.”

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