Crisis Control

Belvoir Wigan comes to the aid of tenants affected by major fire.

Belvoir Wigan comes to the aid of tenants affected by major fire. A devastating fire that recently swept through one of Wigan’s largest apartment blocks sent the Belvoir Wigan team into overdrive, as they worked around the clock to sort out the aftermath of a major incident.

More than 100 firefighters, along with police and ambulance crews from over three counties, battled to tackle the blaze and lead people to safety after 200 residents were evacuated from the Wharfside development.

Despite it happening over a weekend, franchise owner Dave Roberts and his team at Belvoir Wigan immediately swung into action as a ‘fourth emergency service’ - helping 52 of their own tenants, plus many others who were made completely homeless or unable to enter lesser damaged properties to recover belongings.

A total of 133 apartments were directly affected and around a third of the people living in the complex are unlikely to return. For safety reasons, the source of the fire, Block C, has since been demolished.

Along with Dave, who opened up the office on Library Street as soon as word of the disaster started to spread, lettings manager Helen Rowberry, with colleagues Caroline Walsh and Joanne Hill, joined him to deal with a deluge of calls and people queuing outside the office for help and guidance.

”This was a full blown crisis situation,” said Helen. “We had 52 people in tenancy but were also approached by other residents looking for new accommodation.”

“Up to 40 people from other agencies asked us to help and the biggest challenge was trying to find suitable alternative accommodation for people who still wanted to stay in the same complex, since it is centrally located and houses a lot of students from the nearby Arts and Drama College.

“As well as trying to find new accommodation for those tenants who could not return we were also kept very busy arranging the release of deposits and refunds on rent owed to them, working well into each evening to get through it all.”

Speaking of the efforts of his team, Dave Roberts said: “This was a very intense period of activity and the team did a magnificent job of pulling together to sort out a wide range of issues, not only for tenants, but also in communicating developments to landlord clients.

“Although the initial barrage of problems was sorted out very quickly we are still, even now, picking up some of the threads from the event.

“All of our existing rental stock in that particular part of the town was taken immediately, and since then we have managed to re-house a total of 32 people.”

Thankfully, nobody was injured and Wigan Council set up a helpline for victims of the blaze.

Such was the scale of the event that a BBC One TV crew filming the second series of a behind- the- scenes documentary entitled ‘Call the Council’ approached Belvoir Wigan to ask if they could film part of their role in the drama. This will be aired later this year.

Belvoir tenant Wendy Green lost her two-bedroom duplex in the fire, but within two days the office had managed to put her into another two-bed apartment in a nearby, unaffected part of the development.

After being given the chance to return to the area she has lived in for the past two years, Wendy said: “I cannot thank the Belvoir Wigan team enough. They pulled out all the stops to get me sorted out and I am extremely grateful for their assistance.

“Belvoir was my first choice when I first went into rented accommodation at Wharfside and they moved very quickly to find me the right place, back then. The speed with which they dealt with this emergency was outstanding. I’m delighted with the service they have provided.”

Dorian Gonsalves, Belvoir’s Director of Commercial and Franchising said: “Dave Roberts and his team at Belvoir Wigan did a fantastic job in dealing with this emergency situation so rapidly and effectively.

“Being a landlord or a letting agent is a serious business, with the safety and wellbeing of tenants being their responsibility. This major incident demonstrates the importance of being fully aware of all the legal obligations that are in place to ensure lives of tenants are not put at risk and this includes checking that gas safety checks are carried out by registered engineers, all electrical equipment is safe and that fire safety regulations are adhered to.

“There is huge relief that nobody was injured in this fire, and I am very pleased that Belvoir Wigan was able to help so many tenants to find new accommodation.”

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