Washington home owners left angry and confused after 'demanding' letter from Gentoo

Neighbours say they were left furious by confusion over a ‘demanding’ letter from housing firm Gentoo concerning a heating system replacement.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 5:12 pm
Updated Monday, 4th October 2021, 6:21 pm

The letter, which was sent out to private home owners in Oxclose and Albany detailed planned work to the Washington District Heating System, which is owned by Gentoo.

It stated the private home owners own their own pipes, and mentioned a cost of almost £3,000, leading to confusion with some residents believing the letter was a demand for money from the housing company.

The home owners pushed back and said they should not have to cover the cost of work done to the Gentoo-owned heating system.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Steve Donkin with fellow Compton Court, Washington residents. Picture by Frank Reid

But Gentoo has apologised for the confusion and clarified the situation.

Diane Carney, executive director of property at Gentoo Group, said: “This letter confirmed the cost of replacing the pipework and radiators at a cost to the private owners of an average of £3,000.

"We apologise for any confusion, and for clarity, the replacement of the pipework and radiators is not required and owners will still receive a new boiler at Gentoo’s cost.

“We would like to reassure all private owners that the existing pipework remains fit for purpose and compatible with the new individual domestic boilers.

"As we are confident the boilers will be compatible with the pipework, we will not be further subsidising this investment programme for privately owned properties by replacing the pipework and radiators.

"Gentoo is a social housing not-for-profit organisation and this would simply not be appropriate.

“We would like to apologise to all private owners for any historic misinformation given and unnecessary upset or confusion caused.”

Austin Morley, a private home owner in Oxclose, was one of those troubled by the letter.

“I was flabbergasted when I first opened the letter and my biggest concern was the impact this would have on other residents in the street,” he said.

“Some interpreted the misleading letter as a demand for £3,000 and it caused a lot of distress for people. I know some were in tears and one elderly resident even mentioned getting a loan out because they were worried they would have no heating if they didn’t pay.”

Support your Echo and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to all of our news and sport, see fewer ads, experience faster load times, test your brain with daily puzzles and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. The Sunderland Echo has been on Wearside since 1873, and your support means we can continue telling your stories for generations to come. Click here to subscribe.