Grenfell Tower management firm hands back control of properties to council

Updated: 

The body which managed Grenfell Tower is relinquishing responsibility over thousands of properties to Kensington and Chelsea Council, citing concerns it could no longer deliver services effectively.

The Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO or TMO) wrote to residents announcing it would temporarily hand back control for the homes it managed on behalf of the local authority.

Its future has hung in the balance for several months after the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) stripped away its responsibilities over the Grenfell Tower estate.

Survivors of the fire at the west London block, which killed 71, managed to postpone a vote which could have seen the council end all arrangements with the arms-length firm in October.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Around 9,000 properties are managed by the KCTMO in the borough.

Chairwoman Fay Edwards wrote in a letter dated December 22: "The TMO board has reluctantly decided that it can no longer guarantee that it can fulfil its obligations with respect to the delivery of services contained in its contract with the council (known as the modular management agreement or MMA) to a standard that residents should expect.

"The board has decided that it would be in the best interests of all residents that the services which the TMO currently provides are temporarily handed back to the council while it carries out consultation with you about the future management of its housing stock.

"This decision has been made because this consultation will take some time. While the board acknowledges that this longer period is necessary (it may be a year or longer), this has greatly increased the risks of maintaining the service levels we provide to you."

Handover of responsibilities will take place by January 31 2018, the letter added.

The move will likely anger residents, who had previously expressed a desire to see the KCTMO fold but were concerned it would avoid criminal or civil action if it ceased to exist.

Police are currently investigating the body over possible corporate manslaughter charges in connection with the disaster.

Here is an A to Z guide to the support and counselling services available to people affected by #Grenfell. https://t.co/gVOn1bK98I For further information and other support, please contact Care for Grenfell on 020 7745 6414 or email careforgrenfell@rbkc.gov.uk.

-- Grenfell Support (@GrenfellSupport) December 21, 2017

A refurbishment designed and delivered by the KCTMO and contractor Rydon at Grenfell Tower saw flammable cladding installed on its exterior, which is suspected of fuelling the deadly inferno in June.

In bid to allay concerns, Ms Edwards added in the letter: "The TMO will continue to exist as an independent corporate entity and the board will continue to be accountable to its members.

"The resident-led board will have an ongoing role in scrutinising the delivery of services under the MMA, as well as ensuring ongoing assistance to the public inquiry and criminal investigation."

Joe Delaney, who lived in a block formerly managed by the TMO in the shadow of Grenfell Tower and is a member of the council's Grenfell recovery scrutiny committee, criticised the move.

He told the Press Association: "My main concern at the moment is capacity - RBKC hasn't even shown the capacity to deal with the Grenfell disaster, so how can they demonstrate that they have got capacity to bring stuff in-house at this time?"

He added: "And also, what precisely is KCTMO going to do during this time? It is still going to be getting money from the council to keep itself up and running, but it won't have a job."

A spokesman for RBKC said: "We are aware of the update from the TMO to residents and we will be writing to all residents to make sure they have clarity on next steps.

"We are clear, though, that this is only an interim measure."

In a letter which will be sent to residents, deputy council leader Kim Taylor-Smith added they would decide how "you want your homes managed in future".