/ Home & Energy

We’ve been told our cladding bill could be £13,000,000

Residents of Royal Artillery Quays in Woolwich have been told they may have to pay £13m to make their homes safe. Our guest, a leaseholder, explains the impact.

Photo credit: Oli Cooper

This is a guest post by Stephen Day. All views expressed are Stephen’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?. 

Just two weeks ago myself and the other residents here at Royal Artillery Quays were left devastated after receiving Section 20 notices for a potential £13m cladding remediation bill.

A Section 20 notice occurs when works are intended to be carried out on your building – it informs the leaseholders that they will be responsible for the costs.

Why is this happening? Well, we were informed in 2018 that our eight towers, built in 2003, had been constructed with materials now classed as flammable.

Homeowners stuck with unsellable and potentially unsafe flats

Since then, we’ve had to have a 24/7 ‘waking watch’ – people paid to walk around our building all day every day to check for any signs of a fire. This too is charged to leaseholders, inflating our annual service charge to around £6,000.

We estimate this to have already cost £1.5m between us.

We had hoped that the original developers of the building would cover the costs of the waking watch, however a dispute over the bills for both that and the remediation has left us worried that everything could be passed to us.

We’re facing bankruptcy

Of course we’ve applied to the government’s Building Safety Fund, but there are no guarantees we will be successful due to such a high number of applications. This leaves us terrified that we will have to foot the unaffordable bill ourselves.

As a result, myself and other residents are living with the very real threat of having to pay more than £35,000 each to fix our buildings. We simply do not have this sort of money.

When we polled our residents, 63% said they’d be in danger of bankruptcy should no help be given.

Personally, I’m working on a startup that has been devastated by COVID-19 – I’m living off a salary of £950 per month based off a business loan.

I’ve already had to find an extra £468 a month just for service charges. If we are billed for remediation, I won’t be able to afford my mortgage payments any more and may lose my home.

Suffering severely

I’m so incredibly stressed, worried and angry this is happening to me. I’ve never missed a bill payment in my life! I didn’t install this unsafe cladding, I live in an unsafe flat which I can’t afford to fix and cannot sell. I’d clearly never have bought my home if I’d known any of this.

I’m completely trapped and facing ruin. My mental health is suffering severely.

From what I’ve seen, it’s a similar story across the country.

We are pushing for the original developers to support us and agree to pay to rectify the combustible insulation and cladding in the event that our application for funding fails.

There’s currently no end in sight, but we won’t stop fighting for our home and our futures.

This was a guest post by Stephen Day. All views expressed were Stephen’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?. 

Residents affected by potentially dangerous cladding and other building materials is clearly a consumer news story of major public interest, so we’ll be continuing to publish experiences like Stephen’s here on Which? Conversation.

We expect – and certainly hope – that publicising these personal experiences will help to raise awareness and provide evidence for those groups and individuals advocating for solutions.

If you’ve been affected and would like to tell you story, please let us know in the comments.

Comments
Stuart Graham says:
22 October 2020

Similar story for me and the block I live in.
Built in 2007, I purchased in 2017 and now face increased service charges a remediation bill and potential bankruptcy.
It should also be pointed out that the work will generally only go ahead if ALL leaseholders pay upfront otherwise the construction companies will not take on the project for risk of not being paid.
Clearly I don’t know all my one hundred plus neighbours and their financial situation and seems an extra cruel step in this sorry mess that my financial future depends on the strangers who live next door to me.
Like your guest editor, I have never missed bill payments, have excellent credit history and now face ruin.

Why aren’t the developers, construction and all the management companies who would have benefited from their erection being held responsible for rectifying dangerous cladding. There would have been huge profits made from apartments built overlooking The Thames.

I think the question to answer is whether, at the time of construction, the building met all current fire safety regulation, and if the materials used were accurately described and approved and properly installed. If so then I see great difficulty in justifying that the freeholder should pay.

If the building is now deemed to present a fire risk then it clearly has to be remedied. If it were an individual house then it would doubtless be the owner who would pay. The complication here is that many owners are affected and no doubt some, who have no intention of ever moving, may be very unwilling to pay towards the remedial work. Others may feel unable to.

This seems a rather intractable problem when the flats are largely unmarketable until the remedial works are (eventually) completed. It is one of the hazards of home ownership and I see no option but to, one way or another, pay. An increase in the potential value of the properties may warrant an increased mortgage, the freeholder may pay and recover the cost through an increase in the service charge perhaps, or the government may fund the remedial works and recover taxpayers’ money through a loan to individual flat owners.

Unless there has been malpractice I do not think the taxpayer – who often have their own financial problems – should pay for the work. The owners would potentially make a paper profit from any increase in the property value from when they purchased, but events like this are a risk to that profit.

Stuart Graham says:
22 October 2020

The work is not to improve the building but merely to make it safe and once again have a value other than the current value of zero.

If leaseholders do not want to move and pay for the remedial work then the waking watch and increased insurance will be forever. In some blocks this is £500 per month for a waking watch and an additional £1,500 per month for insurance.
So it won’t take long for any savings you have to disappear and then it is at this point you will be declared bankrupt and lose your home.
Normally to avoid bankruptcy you would sell your home but leaseholders can’t.
If you can’t pay your mortgage the bank would repossess your home and sell it to recover their debts. In this case they can’t sell as it’s valued at zero and they will not be want the hassle so will likely wipe off the debt and give the leaseback to the freeholder.
Once the freeholder has enough flats they could then commission the work to be done and then once complete sell the flats again at large profits.
I take your points on what would happen if the same thing happened to an individual house – yes the owner would end up paying but would not have an asset valued at zero and would be able to borrow the cost of repair or sell. They would not be dependent on all their neighbours.

So even if the government don’t pay they need to at least come up with a framework which allows buildings to be remediated and the leaseholders the option of buying and selling and remortgaging again.

It could be as simple as paying and putting a charge on the property deed.

Paul Denver says:
22 October 2020

Surely the obvious solution is a general construction levy on all the developers plus manufacturers that profiteered from installing unsafe cladding? This could be funded from past and future profits. Given top 5 developers made 5.2Billion last year – I’m sure money can be found for this to save the public funds. Although arguably the building reg change was from the Government so they should contribute too.

Leaseholders should be protected from the costs as they weren’t responsible for this.

More here : https://twitter.com/raq_residents

Barratts have no integrity says:
23 October 2020

Flat owners are in this position because BUILDING REGS, (an arm of Government) specified materials, and said they were safe when they were not, and DEVELOPERS used these materials and very often, as in the case of Royal Artillery Quays above, didn’t even install the materials correctly, so they were negligent and cost cut corners to the detriment of buyers.
Barratts homes, failed to do internal firestopping works, which we supposed to be done and ONLY ADMITTED THAT to the management company, Rendell and Rittner in 2018, in my opinion, as they knew it was about to get discovered anyway, because if the Grenfell disaster and subsequents building surveys.
They AGREED to pay for the internal firestopping works, but not the fortune in waking watch costs we had to pay because these were missing, and the works were done, but to date THEY HAVE NOT PAID UP!
So residents are shouldering huge costs there each month.
Regarding the exterior, the foam insulation should have been installed with relevant firebreaks at each level and fully encased in the render, however, they were lazy with this too, and missed firebreaks and didn’t fully encase the foam, so for example on my apartment, you can reach under the exterior step and feel the raw edge of the foam there, just exposed waiting for the fire to come along and send it up.
Buyers bought in GOOD FAITH that these buildings were built to fire regs set out by Government and then constructed by developers properly, but that is not the case in either regards.
Developers were allowed to self certify these things without Regs checking and the two worked together to royally screw us over!
We CANNOT REMORTGAGE to find the huge amount to pay, we CANNOT BORROW ON A PERSONAL LOAN, for that huge amount nor could WE AFFORD THE REPAYMENT COSTS per month!
Our houses WILL NOT INCREASE IN VALUE!
We will not get a penny more that we could have gotten when it was under offer last year either!
The LEASEHOLDERS are the ONLY INNOCENT PARTY in this, and should not be burdened by the huge costs!
And by the way, we are not owners, we are LEASEHOLDERS, and if you leased a faulty car, it would be fixed by the manufacturer, not by the person leasing it, and it is no different with these buildings!
We do not own the buildings.
And lastly, let me remind you that WE ARE ALL TAXPAYERS!
There are millions of us affected!
They can bail out banks and airlines who get themselves in a pickle, but when it comes to innocent parties harmed by greedy, negligent developers, and a Building Regs department that won’t take responsibility for the fact they prescribed these materials as safe erroneously, they chuck us to the dogs!

LucyinLondon says:
11 November 2020

I encourage you to have a look at the trail of events. In 1986, the Conservative government removed a rule requiring external wall systems to have a minimum of 1 hour of fire resistance. In the early 2000s, the government moved the responsibility for fire inspections/surveys from the impartial fire brigades to freeholders & private companies. Post Grenfell, the developers have TRIPLED their donations to the Conservative party, going from 7.9% of total donations to 25%. In addition, there are also deep personal ties with the Conservative Government – William Astor of Adriatic Land (one of the worst cladding freeholders), is the brother-in-law of David Cameron. The leaseholders bought these flats having done all the due diligence required by the government and trusting that their government and builder did THEIR jobs properly. The leaseholders did not deregulate the industry nor did they certify this flammable cladding as safe. They did not make massive profits by installing this cheap option. They did not sign off on it as safe when, in many cases, it seems that the developers and private inspectors knew it was not (Grenfell). Now, leaseholders are being hit on all fronts. They have a waking watch that costs hundreds of pounds per month and insurance premiums that have skyrocketed by many hundred percent. Even in cases of shared ownership, they’re responsible for paying 100% of these costs. If they can’t pay an extra 1000 monthly (or whatever the amount is) for the waking watch and the insurance premiums, their flat gets repossessed. Leaseholders are unable to sell their flat because the flats get an automatic zero valuation by the lenders because it has a B2 rating. The only alternative then becomes bankruptcy (can’t pay off remaining mortgage on a flat that can’t be sold) and often homelessness. Many of the developers are making record profits – Redrow for example, made over £1bn last year and paid their CEO approximately £80m – yet they refuse to fix the buildings they built and watch as many of their buyers declare bankruptcy. Further, these same developers already get a huge handout from taxpayers by way of the Help to Buy scheme – this scheme is responsible for almost half of Persimmon’s total sales, for example.
In this chain of culpability, I cannot see any place for the leaseholders, but I do see a lot of links with government, developers, etc.

LucyinLondon says:
11 November 2020

Interesting fact – Barratt provides Conservative MPs with hospitality. For example, they invite MPs to Twickenham. The tickets are valued at around £800 and the following MPs have attended in 2019/Q1 2020: Eddie Hughes, James Wild, James Crabb, and Chris Heaton-Harris. MP Heaton-Harris has also had David Barratt (I believe he is the son of the Barratt Homes founder) as well as Barratt Homes PLC, provide him with hospitality. Mr Barratt paid £460 for MP Heaton-Harris to stay in a hotel for one night. I

If you can show that Barratt Homes did not install the cladding in accordance with their approved plans and fraudulently self certified, and if the Barratt company that built the flats still trades, then it seems to me that they are liable for the costs of putting their incorrect installation right. Can you support these allegations and have the residents taken legal advice?

Where a developer or freeholder refuses to cover the remedial cost, the government should cover the cost in full, and then impose a levy or tax on all future new build flats to fund the total remedial cost across the UK. Then the deficient building industry will ultimately foot the bill anyway.

Alternatively a change needs to be made to the Limitation Act 1980 to extend by many more years the time within which leaseholders or building management companies can recover such remedial costs from developers. However, changing the retrospective application of legislation is always problematic.

The building industry is not, however, deficient if the buildings met all applicable regulations in force at the time.

Recovering costs from developers may well be impossible if their businesses were wound up, and if their development complied with regulations if the time I’m not sure why they should be liable.

Some questions should be whether materials supplied were as specified and correctly tested, and whether they were installed correctly and tested as an installation. The latter should be required by the local planning authority who monitor and sign off the build. It may well be some local authorities are at fault here and they, then should be responsible, wholly or partly, for remedial works. However, I understand that if the LA makes a mistake in such matters they are exempt from financial liability.

Paul Denver says:
22 October 2020

If the BBA certificate for a cladding product was withdrawn for fire safety issues before a purchaser pays for the product. Doesn’t a surveyor have a duty of care, when asked to conduct a thorough search, to raise any cladding issues (ie BBA Cert withdrawals) before a person buys the property?

I disagree that a developer was not at fault simply because it complied with the prevailing regulations at the time of construction. The developer should also be expected to build with reasonable care and skill, which means avoiding the use of materials that it ought to have known were potentially unsafe.

If the materials were potentially unsafe they should not have been approved by planning.

Well exactly, Malcom R, but they WERE potentially unsafe yet still approved by planning!!
RAQ was built in 2002 and in 1996 they KNEW EPS could form molten droplets if exposed to fire, so banned it in workplaces, yet still let them put it in RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS where people live and sleep years later!
The developers were aware of this also, but used it anyway, as it was cheap and “legal”.
No conscience, any of them!

A minor technical quibble – it’s building control rather than planning who are responsible for compliance with the building regulations. This is one of the serious issues in the Grenfell Tower case – how on earth could they have passed the construction material and design for the cladding? Planning can approve proposals and designs [including the external appearance of buildings or additions] in the expectation that building control will ensure the structure is safe.

Building control is now a largely out-sourced local authority function; conceivably it is now more developer-friendly.

Donk-E-Mon says:
22 October 2020

What’s the difference between buying a house and buying any other retail item? Sure it’s more complex, other laws (apparently) exist, but FIT FOR PURPOSE is a standard still, isn’t it? Meaning, subject to legal argument, not just reliant on building regulations. So if the building regulations aren’t good enough, one should have redress based on arguing that the chemistry, physics and standard of material used should have been BETTER understood, not just box-ticked as passing a poor government standard. Of course, people blame the (usually-poor) Gov standards. Box-ticking, zero-pride culture is choking this country to death. But isn’t new (look at the Hammersmith Flyover emergency repairs in recent years).
I have no clue, probably, but I know in IT security, that just because the minimum legal standard is x, y, and z, doesn’t mean that I’m competent at my job if I ignore the need for a, b, and c to also be implemented in a service or product I am selling. I don’t care about the Gov standards except as a baseline to be supereded.

Louise Smith says:
22 October 2020

I’m in the same position. Our building was found to be missing cavity barriers, despite these being required in building regs when the building was constructed in 2009. We now have waking watch and are waiting to find out what remediation work needs to be done. As a shared owner (I own 35% of my flat) and a leaseholder (so I don’t really own anything), I’m still liable for 100% of all costs. I don’t understand how 1) a developer can get away with not building to regulations and leaseholders, who bought under the expectation of buildings meeting all standards, can be charged for their incompetence or 2) how my housing association, which owns 65% of my flat and 100% of the external walls where the problems are, doesn’t have to pay a penny.

I must admit I am at a loss to understand why the owner of each block [the freeholder] should not be wholly or primarily liable. The freeholders invested in the properties at their own risk, they collect a ground rent from the leaseholders, and they have an enduring and perpetual interest in the building until they dispose of it. The freeholders invested in the expectation that the value of these buildings would appreciate and that the income from them would also grow at periodic intervals. Unfortunately, the materials used turned out not to be as safe and fireproof as they should have been, but that was the risk they took on. It does not seem right that the freeholders can merely transfer the risk to whoever happens to be in residence at the time that a deficiency in the construction materials is discovered.

Some of the current residents of affected blocks are leaseholders, others are sub-tenants; is it presumed that sub-tenants, while not being financially liable for any of the remediation costs, are therefore somehow unaffected by this situation. Is not their tenancy – their home – at risk if their landlord [the leaseholder] becomes bankrupt and, because the lease is effectively unassignable, it reverts to the freeholder? This entire predicament is an absolute minefield. Normally, when regulations change, pre-existing situations are allowed to continue until a future break point but that is not feasible in a multi-occupied building because an emergency in one unit would affect the risk level of the other units and no one resident can practically take on the other residents’ risk.

The government changed the rules [with justification, I hasten to add], and the government has allowed its External Wall Survey policy and requirements to get misused and to spiral out of control, so surely the government must accept some liability for the prevailing situation. To some extent this is due to a failing of the building regulations and the building control system over which the government presides.

The speculators who had these blocks built are likely now to be sitting on impaired assets where the fair value is below the book value, and this gives rise to an impairment loss. Such losses, if continuing year after year, are likely to be unsustainable so those companies would also collapse into some form of liquidation thus adding to the chaos. It is not in the public interest for such a situation to develop as it would turn the current housing shortfall into a major crisis, seriously disrupt the housing market and the ability of the private sector to supply the new homes required, perpetuate bad housing conditions and homelessness [which depends for its relief on a cascade of dwellings as new ones become available], and lead to the abandonment of these developments causing more urban decay and reversing the achievements in housing provision of the last fifty years. The government must step in and take charge of the problem and organise a systematic risk-based priority remediation programme under a powerful executive body that can if necessary compulsorily purchase the properties from the freeholders, invest in their remediation, and ultimately therefore crystallise the added value to repay the public finances. They did that with delinquent banks and now it is time to grasp this particular nettle since the implications for citizens’ finances, health and well-being are at least as serious.

I recognise that the government has it hands fairly full right now but this particular housing problem can only get worse if left unattended and must be addressed urgently. As an initial step the government should intervene in the EWS1 process and stop the abuse of its scheme by determining that only blocks over 18 metres in height are to be subject to it [and then in a rational order of priority based on the risk of fire and the ease of evacuation] the only exceptions being certain lower buildings where the means of fire detection and escape are deficient or the nature of the occupation makes priority remediation justifiable.

That makes a lot of sense, John. I doubt if any competent scientist would have regarded the cladding as of suitable fire-resistance.

Presumably scientists might have been involved, with others, in testing the materials and in devising the regulations that are supposed to make buildings safe. .

I understand John’s point about the freeholder being liable, but in a sense the effective ownership of the building, it seems to me, is shared between those who buy the individual units and can normally profit from their sale, and the person who collects the ground rent and service charge. I know little about this, I fully admit, but I understand that when building repairs are required, such as to the roof and communal areas, these are paid for collectively by the occupants. Does upgrading the fire precautions fall into that same category if the building were correctly built initially?

A freeholder, a well as the leaseholders, may be quite unable to fund their share, or the whole of, the upgrade. yet it seemingly must be done for safety reasons. Perhaps one way is for government to fund the remedial work and place a charge on each flat, either repayable over time in instalments or in total as and when each flat is sold. The financial log jam needs to be broken. We seem to have found a magic money tree to fund jobs at risk under COVID, so maybe that same tree could help out here.

Malcolm – I am no expert in this but I think the requirement for the leaseholders to fund repairs and renewals in communal residential blocks is merely a convention, not a statutory obligation. It is incorporated in the lease purchased by the leaseholder and possibly arose because ground rents are relatively low and not normally subject to annual uplift or any variation to accommodate the up and downs of maintenance expenditure. Some ground rents are quite nominal so the only recourse for funds for essential major repairs and renewals is the service charges. These are effectively passed through to the sub-tenants [if any] as part of their rent.

There are some eighty-year old blocks of four flats near us which were designed to look like pairs of semi-detached houses; they are progressively being upgraded with new roof lining and loft insulation. The current occupiers seem mostly to be as old as the properties and have been caught for the cost of this work but apparently, a long time ago, their freeholder or the management company established a reserve fund into which an amount is paid each year against future major expenditure. The buildings are entirely of conventional and fireproof construction, with brick walls and concrete floors. The flats are all self-contained each having its own ground floor entrance, the first floor flats being accessed via internal concrete staircases. They are unfortunately and unnecessarily affected by the misuse of the EWS1 process by the lending industry.

Shauna says:
23 October 2020

Hi, I am in a similar situation, trying to get an answer from L&Q re if leaseholders are liable to pay costs whether shared owners would contribute their share or if their is a risk they pay 100%. Has anyone had any guidance on this?

Louise Smith says:
23 October 2020

So far, shared owners have been found to be liable for 100% of the costs – it’s in most leases that while you only own a percentage share, you must pay 100% of all maintenance and improvement costs. Of course, no-one envisaged those costs being of this magnitude when agreeing to those terms – I think the most I thought I’d get stuck with is replacing a boiler, especially as the service charge includes money for a sinking fund for major works.


Matthew Pennycook (Greenwich and Woolwich) (Lab)
As we have heard, the cladding crisis now extends far beyond ACM cladding. ……………There are an unknown number of buildings that have serious issues with defective fire stopping and compartmentalisation, as in the Barratt Homes-constructed Royal Artillery Quays development. Again, leaseholders there are at risk of being hit with significant costs.

If this was original to the building then questions should be asked of the local authority as to why this defective construction was, presumably, either not noticed or wrongly approved.

Barratt Homes carried out some initial works fixing fire breaks between flats and community areas at a cost of £300,000 but this is just one aspect of the fire safety work required on the building.

A spokesperson for Barratt Developments said: “The cladding system at Royal Artillery Quays met the requirements of the building regulations in place at the time of construction in 2003 and was signed off by an independent approved inspector.

“Having sold the freehold following completion, Barratt has no continuing involvement in the building and is not responsible for any work required to bring the external wall system in line with the latest guidance from the MHCLG.”

The buildings were signed off despite things being done badly, I believe, due to the fact that during the building boom, developers were self certifying their buildings and signing them off themselves!
Barratts did carry out internal firestopping works that they FAILED to install at the time, therefore the buildings were actually NOT built compliant!
They also promised to pay for these works, but so far have not been forthcoming, and instead our service charges have been hiked up hugely to cover what they refuse to cough up!

Frances says:
23 October 2020

My daughter, an NHS physiotherapist, bought her purpose built flat in 2013 (built 2007), having paid a local surveyor for a home buyer’s survey. The cladding was part of the initial building, not an afterthought. The flat was signed off by the local council (Southwark). How can it be that neither of these bodies, nor the builders, Laing O’Rourke, all of which have professional expertise and were paid for their services are held to have any legal liability for the cladding repairs?
After Grenfell the management company commissioned various reports and did extensive research and was told that the cladding was safe. Last year, just before the government changed the regulations and declared the cladding, previously held to be safe, unsafe, she bought the freehold for her flat. The purchase of the freehold had been being pursued for a number of years by residents, who were fed up with the ongoing behaviour of the freehold company. It seemed a good idea to get that company off the leaseholders’ backs. The company which owned the freehold had been refusing to sell and then, all of a sudden, agreed, so long as the sale went through within a stated very short time.
That company must have known about the new cladding regulations before they were published. The management company, which had been very vigilant over the situation regarding the cladding, since Grenfell, had no idea that the flats’ cladding was about to be condemned. My daughter only found out about the changed situation after she put the flat on the market. The leaseholders now find themselves liable for the repairs, but she would be hit even if the freeholders were held to be responsible as the previous company literally milked the freeholder situation until the last minute and then effectively exited from the situation and made a huge profit at the same time.
There is just malpractice after malpractice going on in this whole murky business. When anyone buys a property, they would be wrong to think that it is a one-way gravy train of big bucks, but no-one could possibly expect that they could have a huge liability that would not be covered by the home’s buildings insurance or any of those responsible for the mess.
These people are just as much in need of help as those who are sadly losing their incomes over the Covid situation.

Tony Humphries says:
25 October 2020

I would say BBA certified products are fit for the purposes for which they were certified, But not all applications. I would strongly advise that flat owners seek to determine if the original installation was fit for the purposes for which it was intended, were the products fit for purpose, is there evidence of unauthorised substitution? , was the installation in compliance with the design brief? Has redress been sought from the installers insurance company, were the installers approved by a third party who might be able to provide insurance details, who supplied the products to the installers, and did they see the design and approve the product for used that design. Could redress be available from the suppliers of product?

Howard says:
26 October 2020

Hi my name is Howard I have deep interest in law of all kinds.
I advise that you all get together and I mean all everyone in this cladding problem.
By getting together and signing agreement to jointly seek an end to this situation the problem is shared and those costs will be far less than you think if joining together.
Seek out a Barrister who specialises in this area get them to represent you all everyone of you.
Seek rightful justice from the builders of these properties the makers of the cladding and legal redress from your purchase lawyer who’s duty is to protect your interests
On all purchases whether flats houses leasehold or freehold
You are not builders engineers etc and have been sold buildings not fit for purpose and not suitable for habitation please do as I say crowd funding is about your only way forward as the costs mount up.
Doing nothing is not an option as it will happen again if they think they are above the law.
Write to the legal Ombudsman first 64 p stamp declaring your intentions and demand public enquiry.
While awaiting response get busy with a website gathering names and information ready to proceed . You will need a committee.
To move forward.
Let me know response from Ombudsman and get a national paper on your side via an investigative journalist who likes headline news.
His reward will
Be job offers world wide after you win which I most certainly think you will as this is complete and utter injustice to all concerned

I wonder if Stephen Day’s block could be made safe by merely stripping off the unsafe external cladding rather than “remediation”. That would leave the flats with higher heating bills because of inadequate insulation but I can’t imagine the cost would be anywhere near £13 million.

David jennings says:
26 October 2020

I think Which should start a campaign to help these people. It is appalling that they should foot the bill for someone else’s profit.

Surely the freeholder, in this case, the person who owns the buildings themselves, is responsible for the exterior walls and roof? Why is the leaseholder responsible? And more so if they’ve bought a defective product that was clearly defective when sold to them. What’s in their leasehold contracts in terms of exterior responsibility? And why doesn’t the freeholder’s buildings insurance cover this?

According to this https://www.freehold-sale.co.uk/resources/freeholder-responsibilities/im-a-freeholder-what-are-my-responsibilities/ – that is the case. The link includes:
“Typical Freeholder Responsibilities
A freeholders’ responsibilities can include all or a combination of the following activities:
Repairs and maintenance to the structure of the building (including the roof and guttering) and any communal areas
“……..

Can these responsibilities, or their costs, be transferred to the leaseholders in their leases? If so, then it would seem the individual owners have agreed, in their leases, to accept such costs.

Otherwise, perhaps someone can explain why the freeholders are not paying for such repairs.

Mags says:
28 October 2020

I’m a RAQ resident and was hoping to sell my property last year, I even had a buyer and it all seemed to be going well… until the buyer was refused a mortgage based on the cladding being deemed unsafe. I am now stuck in a property I no longer want to be living in, and it feels like being imprisoned. With the rising costs, I will soon no longer be able to afford it, and if I am forced to pay £35k to get our buildings fixed, well, I might as well throw myself off my lovely 6th floor balcony.

Hi Mags, please don’t throw yourself of your balcony, I know you’re going through a rough time but suicide is a long term solution for a short term problem. Please reach out to the samaritan if you are having these thoughts.

We’d reached out to Mags at the time this comment was posted to ensure they’re ok.

If anyone’s having similar thoughts though, please don’t hesitate to seek out the help you may need:

Two options are:

Your GP or NHS 111 can also give help and advice. If you’re in immediate danger or threat of harm though, call 999.

Thank you, we’re based not too far from RAQ and are waiting the notification as to whether or not we have cladding. We are racked with fear and the ramifications it will have on my family. I hope the right decision is made with the freeholder/builder/surveyor taking accountability. Our local MP is on our side and there are enough people to take this fight on.