A VULNERABLE tenant who waited three-and-a-half years for his faulty front door to be replaced has received apologies from Woking Borough Council and its housing management company for the way he has been treated.

Trevor Staples, 75, has also been given £200 compensation for the trouble and upset caused as he tried to get a properly fire-resistant door installed in place of a badly fitted temporary door.

His case – reported several times in the News & Mail – was taken up by Woking Citizens Advice, which made an official complaint to the council on his behalf.

New Vision Homes (NVH) eventually fitted another temporary door that complied with safety regulations, after the intervention of a fire brigade safety inspector.

Mr Staples lives in an older people’s complex at French’s Wells, Goldsworth Park. His original front door was smashed in by firefighters in the spring of 2017, after he had collapsed with a health problem and laid helpless on the hall floor for three nights.

The replacement door caused cold draughts in the flat as it had gaps of more than 10mm at the top and no smoke seals around the frame.

Constant pleas over many months by Mr Staples for a smart uPVC-composite door like the one that was damaged to be installed led him to be labelled “vexatious” by NVH. It told him it would no longer reply to his inquiries until new information about a door replacement was available.

Citizens Advice told the council: “This is an utterly inappropriate response to a tenant who has a legitimate complaint, as confirmed by the fire service, whose complaint has not been resolved, who is vulnerable and who has sought support with trying to resolve his issue from local councillors and agencies that partner with Woking Borough Council.”

The complaint was investigated by the council’s director of housing, Louise Strongitharm, who concluded that NVH did not follow its processes for notifying Mr Staples directly of the planned course of action.

But his persistent and repeated complaints did place a strain on time and resources and divert staff away from assisting other customers, she said.

“Mr Staples raised valid concerns around the compliance of his temporary front door that were not acted upon until Surrey Fire and Rescue became involved,” she said in her findings. “On this matter, I do not believe that NVH have dealt with Mr Staples’ complaint appropriately or in accordance with their policies and procedures.”

It was disappointing that NVH did not appear to have undertaken its own internal inspection of the door, despite repeated complaints.

There were, however, valid reasons for the delay in fitting a permanent fire door, including changes in specifications following the Grenfell Tower disaster and problems in finding suitable manufacturers and installers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“On behalf of Woking Borough Council, I wish to sincerely apologise to Mr Staples for the distress, inconvenience and poor living conditions that have resulted from New Vision Homes’ handling of this complaint,” said Mrs Strongitharm.

“Furthermore, I would like to offer Mr Staples compensation of £200 in recognition of the trouble and upset caused.”

NVH housing contract manager Stephen Charles wrote in a letter to Mr Staples: “We accept that we acted incorrectly in this matter and offer a full apology as such. Please be assured that with immediate effect you can contact us via methods open to all our customers and your query will be looked at in the courteous and professional fashion you should expect.”

Another temporary wooden door was installed at Mr Staples’s flat in November and declared compliant by the fire service.

Mr Staples has been told that a permanent uPVC-composite door will be fitted next month. He has been given a choice of three styles and four colours.