Resident brands Invicta House a ‘death trap’ over lift breakdowns, piled rubbish and fire damage

Invicta House

An angry resident at Invicta House in Margate is demanding to know when action will be taken after 17 break downs of the lifts this year.

The resident was unable to get to his 14th floor flat to get his heart medication following one of the latest incidents.

The man, who asked not to be named, eventually got back to his flat hours later after an emergency repair.

He said: “The lifts were broken again, piles of cardboard were on the stairs, another fire waiting to happen no doubt. It’s a death trap.”

The resident said he has asked what contingency plans there are for disabled tenants and has been led to believe there isn’t one.

He added: “I asked them if they were aware that it would be corporate manslaughter should someone die because they can’t get in and out of the building. I asked them why the lifts have not been cleaned all week, are full of p**s, and have spit dripping from the walls, they said they are not responsible for cleaning.

“I asked them why cardboard and packaging is dumped in the stairwell, in a building that is constantly on fire. The chute rooms are still smoke damaged and stink. Walls are still stained from the massive fire at the start of the year. The level of incompetence, to life threatening situations is actually quite frightening.

“I am becoming very anxious, angry, and depressed by the whole thing. They won’t even fix my bedroom door, stating internal doors are the tenant’s responsibility. That may well be the case, but when living in a building that’s on fire 10-plus times a year, and smoke gets into the bedroom before the fire alarms go off you would think they would make an exception.”

The block, which is managed by East Kent Housing on behalf of Thanet council, has been hit by numerous fires over the past three years, mostly in the bin chutes but also in the stairwells.

Fire safety works due to have been carried out in June and July at Invicta House flats in Margate were delayed due to the need to reappoint a contractor. Works are now underway and are due to be completed by March 2020.

Some £900,000 was earmarked for fire safety works at the isle six authority-owned blocks in Thanet council’s 2018/19 budget.

This followed detailed fire safety reports where a number of enhanced fire safety works were identified.

Revised risk assessments were carried out following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017 and additional fire safety works were identified.

Some works began in 2018 but a further £810,000 was required to complete the recommendations. This year another £100,000 was required to continue with non-urgent fire safety recommendations.

Works at 14 floor Invicta House in Millmead Road are to include upgrades for the communal fire alarm system and smoke detectors. A sprinkler system has been installed in the bin room.

Compliance for lift safety in East Kent Housing managed properties was also slammed in an audit report this year following the revelation of a series of health and safety failures by the organisation.

It was revealed that hundreds of council property tenants across east Kent had been awaiting gas safety certificates due to overdue Landlord Gas Safety Register assessments.

It then emerged that there were also grave concerns over fire safety, electrical certification, lifts, asbestos and legionella testing.

The report to Thanet, Dover, Canterbury and Folkestone & Hythe councils, which EKH manages properties for, said some lifts had not been examined properly since 2017 despite legal requirements for six-monthly checks.

The report said examinations had been terminated by lift examiners from Zurich due to safety concerns being identified.

It added: “In a number of cases, the following examination 6 months later also had to be terminated early due to the same concerns being raised by the examiner as those which were raised 6 months previously. The early termination of a 6 monthly examination means that the council is failing to operate the lift in accordance with the LOLER regulations as it has not had the lift examined every 6 months.”

Notable concerns were raised over Thanet blocks Trove Court and Harbour Towers.

The report added: “Testing also identified that where lift examinations are being completed, EKH is not rectifying the defects reported on lift examination reports as requiring corrective action as soon as reasonably practicable. This means that the same defects are reported as outstanding on numerous six monthly lift examination reports.”

The report also noted that some emergency evacuation summary sheets held by EKH were out of date.

Numerous attempts to gain a statement from EKH remain unanswered. However, a letter sent by the organisation to a tenant says a quarter of lift breakdowns were due to vandalism and the remaining incidents were related to lift door issues.

The letter adds: “We have taken the decision to store spare parts on site or nearby.” The letter also says internal doors may be replaced and a new fire detection system will be installed in the flats. It adds that the block has a ‘stay put’ policy in the event of fire.

This month the board of East Kent Housing was dismissed by Thanet, Dover, Canterbury and Folkestone & Hythe councils. A consultation has also taken place over plans to axe arrangements with East Kent Housing. In October Thanet council Cabinet members approved moves to get views on plans to bring council properties back in-house.

The outcome will be reported to Cabinet early in the new year.


  1. Staner court is exactly the same run down not fit to live in place is full of rubbish. Even had a flood last night in the lifts which meant both lifts are now not working and probably won’t work until after Christmas.

  2. Makes you wonder why the complainant makes no comment about those that actually spit and p155 in the lifts, dump rubbish in the stairwells and set fires, quite how much effort is meant to be spent clearing up after animals? All resources that could be diverted to real improvements.

    • Agreed. The rubbish did not get there by itself. The rubbish has been dumped by persons living in the building who are too lazy, inconsiderate and anti-social to dispose of it properly.

      Similarly, the urine in the lifts and stairwells comes from the residents or people who are visiting those residents.

  3. It’s always the council’s fault.
    Everyone knows that councillors have a rota system. They take it in turns to dump rubbish in the flat’s stair wells, soil the lifts and set fire to the place.
    Disgraceful! They should be sacked.

  4. It can not be avoided that, the fires in the stair wells, and rubbish chutes. The dumping of rubbish. Breaking the lifts is being done by the residents and their visitors. Is there any cameras in the stair wells etc. and if so why is no one being charged with criminal damage?

  5. Yes the lifts need to be fixed as a matter of urgency but surely the residents should take responsibility for the cleanliness rather than blaming the council.
    It’s not the councils fault some of the residents treat the building like a giant toilet. There needs to be cameras fitted and the culprits made to clean up their own mess and even the whole building as a punishment.
    Stop hating on the council and start reporting the scum residents and guests who are the real culprits.

  6. The tenants that take those flats are not always the best tenants anyone would want but the council has to home them. They should also evict any who breach their tenancy agreements. It is obvious that most of these incidents are caused by tenants living there, through mental health, laziness or other mitigating reason it is hard to say, but all the same these are dangerous situations and the safety of others is being put at risk by a few bad apples that don’t care about anyone else. It is essential that good and secure vandal-proof cctv is set up and kept maintained regularly by reliable contractors to catch any criminal activity in all of Thanet’s high-rise blocks as a matter of urgency.

    • Its an appaling show of ignorance on behalf of the council, Theres water leaking through into flat number 26 a mears workman was called so many times to repair the leak but all the guy did was just walk in looked at the leak and did absolutely nothing. Mears are a s**t firm for repairs they do nothing in the way of repairs , A new contractor is desperately needed.

  7. In many blocks of flats in Europe, and sometimes in the UK, they have a concierge, or warden living for a free in one of the flats. They can’t be there 24/7 but will get to know who the anti-social trouble makers are. They should then be able to report them to a TDC Housing Officer, and after due diligence, have the tenant evicted! Many Housing Associations use this method, and private management companies, so why don’t TDC adopt this system?

    • TDC did have wardens in their tower blocks many years ago I’ve lived in one for 35 years. Half of them years there was wardens that had a flat in the block. The wardens live there rent free they cleaned every landing everyday and reported any repairs that needed doing in the block. They were called caretakers. The place was spotless when we had caretakers

    • The warden or concierge still has to be paid a wage; the rent, service charge and all other outgoings in respect of the flat still have to be met; and all that is paid for by the other lessees.

      Nothing is for free.

      Far better and cheaper for the other residents to organise themselves into a residents association and resolve the issues with their peers.

  8. Its an appaling show of ignorance on behalf of the council, Theres water leaking through into flat number 26 a mears workman was called so many times to repair the leak but all the guy did was just walk in looked at the leak and did absolutely nothing. Mears are a s**t firm for repairs they do nothing in the way of repairs , A new contractor is desperately needed.

  9. I’m with Tennent here. The block of flats I lived in had a caretaker and he knew everyone (or so it seemed) on the seven floors. There were problems but they got sorted quickly. My experience of Residents Associations has not always been positive. Paying a caretaker is not a huge amount and they have a vested interest in maintaining a good environment – they live there .

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