Residents at The Exchange on Hotham Street in Liverpool city centre find themselves in a dire situation as a power outage since 6 pm on Monday, January 15, has left them without electricity and water. The building, managed by Urban Evolution, has been troubled with various issues for months, including reports of leaks, cracked ceilings, and a lack of hot water.
Urban Evolution, the letting company overseeing the student flats, acknowledged the power outage with regret and assured residents that they “anticipate power to be restored very soon.” Despite these assurances, several students claim that communication with the letting company has been inadequate, and their grievances have not been appropriately addressed.
A spokesperson for Urban Evolution mentioned the unfortunate power outage, stating that residents “have been receiving regular updates, and refreshments have been provided. We have a team of engineers onsite working through the problems aiming to have power live in a few hours and will continue to provide live updates. We have multiple staff members onsite to help support tenants as we do everything possible to reinstate power. Our primary concern now is our tenants’ welfare and supporting them as best we can until power is back on. We expect some positive news soon.”
Despite these reassurances, many students express concern about the lack of information and the poor handling of their complaints. The chaotic scene when the electricity went out has left students in distress, with perishable food discarded due to non-functional fridges and freezers. Safety concerns arise as students navigate emergency exits in total darkness due to malfunctioning fire alarms.
Doors powered by electricity are reportedly unable to be locked, causing insecurity among students. The lack of communication from Urban Evolution has intensified the distress, with residents feeling abandoned and uneasy amidst the ongoing outage.
Residents sought refuge elsewhere for warmth and water after enduring a freezing night without electricity. They criticized the lack of information about when the outage would be resolved and highlighted the insufficient water supply provided to residents.
Liverpool’s universities are stepping in to offer support to affected students. A spokesperson for Liverpool Hope University stated that they have been in contact with students living in The Exchange, offering rooms in their halls of residence at the Creative Campus for temporary accommodation.
Contrary to Urban Evolution’s claim of providing regular updates, students argue that they have not been given a timeframe for resolution. They point out that the water bottles distributed to residents were insufficient, raising concerns about the well-being of those affected.
Reports from students suggest that staff not employed by Urban Evolution have indicated that the issue may take weeks to resolve, prompting some students to seek alternative accommodations. However, Urban Evolution has not responded to these claims.
An 18-year-old architecture student described the challenging conditions in the building, including the lack of power and water, forcing students to travel to places like Starbucks to complete university work. The inability to cook due to the power outage has resulted in the disposal of food items.
This incident is not the first time residents of The Exchange have faced problems. Complaints from November included issues such as poor Wi-Fi, faulty lighting, and leaky windows, prompting one student to leave the building two months early.
Students reported using an internal complaints portal, but issues were allegedly marked as completed without being resolved. Urban Evolution insisted that maintenance issues are addressed promptly, with water temperature problems being actively worked on.
However, students countered these claims, stating that the situation is “beyond dire” and that they have been left to fend for themselves. Issues with hot water, sewage problems, and the stench of sewage have been ongoing, with residents resorting to temporary solutions such as pouring bleach down drains.
Residents emphasize the lack of communication from Urban Evolution, stressing the impact on their daily lives, including missed lectures due to the inability to shower and brush teeth. Some have resorted to using gym showers or seeking accommodation in local hotels.
In response to the ongoing crisis, Urban Evolution reiterated its commitment to resolving the power outage promptly. A spokesperson stated that a team of engineers is working on the issue, providing regular updates and refreshments to affected residents. The company assured that the main focus is on the welfare of tenants, with a contingency plan in place if power is not restored soon.
As the situation unfolds, the spotlight remains on Urban Evolution’s ability to address the concerns of distressed students and provide a timely resolution to the ongoing issues at The Exchange.