DOZENS of families are in shock after being told to evacuate their homes after flats were branded a fire hazard.

Riverside Place, in Braintree, is made up of two blocks of flats, with housing association tenants and private owners.

But families say they have been told they will have to leave their homes after a 160-page report listed a catalogue of fire safety issues.

Fire marshals have now been put in place around the clock and a new fire alarm system is being fitted at the flats, in St John’s Avenue.

Housing association tenants have been moved into temporary accommodation including hotels by Home Group, which owns the flats.

The Times spoke to one owner and dad, who paid £176,000 for his large two-bedroom flat two years ago.

He asked not to be named, but said: "Something has gone wrong somewhere and we don't know where.

"We've been told there is little to no fire safety in the building.

"We are all having to decamp.

"I'm still in my property because I've nowhere to go.

"Legally we don't know where we stand. It's one of the worst situations I've been in, in my life.

If we can't find anywhere we'll have to go into a hotel

"I'm sitting here eating a bacon sandwich with my house in boxes."

The family are waiting to receive a prohibition notice which will force them to leave their property.

The dad said: "At the moment Home Group can't force us out because we own it, but if a prohibition order is served we have to move by law.

"Home Group have offered to pay a year up front to go live somewhere else but there is nowhere to go.

"If we can't find anywhere we'll have to go into a hotel."

He added: "We've owned this place for two years and we are being told we have to go.

"Our life savings are in this property.

"I don't think we will lose it but we just don't know where we stand.

"There are removal trucks turning up and a lot of the housing association people have moved out. Some are going to stay with friends and family, but we are still here trying to find other accommodation.

"I feel broken. We own our flat and have had to pull it apart. It's in boxes – it's a horrible situation to be in."

Riverside Place is believed to have been built about six years ago.

It was later bought by the Home Group housing association.

Executive director of operations Matt Forrest said: “Providing a safe place to live for our customers is our number one priority, and that is why we regularly carry out an extensive range of surveys and checks at our properties.

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“During one of these routine checks, and a subsequent extensive survey, it became clear that significant remedial works are needed at our Riverside Place properties.

“We have been working very closely with Essex Fire Service and have put extensive safety measures in place whilst we carried out our checks. We have kept our customers informed throughout this process.

“These investigations showed that to complete the work required to bring the building to a safety standard that we are satisfied with, unfortunately, we will have to move our customers out of the building.

"We are aware that this will cause them significant disruption to their day-to-day lives.

“It is not a decision that we have come to lightly. However, our customers’ safety is, and always will be, our paramount concern. We will continue to engage with them every step of the way.”