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Gentoo faces £2million housing repair bill after Sunderland homes take battering in storms

A Sunderland housing association is facing a £2million bill to repair storm-damaged properties.

By Chris Binding
Thursday, 10th March 2022, 2:09 pm

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In recent months, the region was battered by several extreme weather events, including Storm Arwen and Storm Malik, which caused damage to buildings and property.

Housing provider Gentoo Group has seen record calls during the several storm events since November 2021 and is currently working its way through a backlog of repairs.

A tree fell on one gentoo property at the end of January.

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While progress is being made to fix roofs and fences, Gentoo bosses have confirmed the cost of the storm damage repairs could reach £2million.

“A massive amount of damage was caused to Gentoo properties as well as others in the region,” said Nigel Wilson, chief executive officer at Gentoo Group.

“We have completed 2,500 roof repairs since November [2021] but we have got another 2,500 to go – there is literally not enough materials or contractors available to do it any quicker unfortunately.

“That is regrettable and that does cause a lot of dissatisfaction amongst tenants and we have had to triage it in terms of prioritising the worst damage first and then pick up the rest.

Resident John Scott shows the storm damage at his home.

“It’s not an easy thing but literally, Storm Arwen created the most damage and then the other storms just made it worse on the back of that.

“There has been a lot of communication with our tenants and residents about it […] and we’re literally doing as much as we can but there’s delays because of the contracting supply and the international shortage of materials.”

The Gentoo chief was speaking at a meeting of Sunderland City Council’s Economic Prosperity Scrutiny Committee, which was held at City Hall on March 8.

Mr Wilson went on to say: “We estimate currently that the storm damage will cost us between £1.5million and £2million pounds.

Damage to a house in Falmouth Square.

“That is unprovided for in terms of budgetary terms, you don’t have a provision for seven storms in a matter of three months and I don’t think many people would.

“So we have just got to find that money from within our resources in the best way we can.”

Councillors heard that the north area of Sunderland was the worst hit by storms, due to the direction of wind and the age of some of the roofs.

On the back of damage to Gentoo properties, there have also been hundreds of reports of fences being blown down or damaged across the city.

A gable end damaged in the storms.

In response to a question from councillor Usman Ali, Gentoo Group’s chief executive officer confirmed Gentoo would be able meet the multi-million pound repairs bill through management of existing budgets.

Mr Wilson went on to say: “We’re a £160million business [annual turnover] so we have got to be able to cope with that and we have significant reserves that we have to draw on.

“As a business we need to generate an element of surplus each year to demonstrate to our regulators that we’re still financially viable and we do that through careful and prudent management of all our resources and budgets.”

Gentoo has a list of repairs which it determines as an emergency, which tenants can see by visiting the Gentoo website.

For more information, visit: www.gentoogroup.com/emergency

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