Residents of 'Grenfell-style' blocks heading for financial ruin

Residents of 'Grenfell-style' blocks heading for financial ruin

Residential tower block Northpoint, in Bromley, London.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Residents of high-rise tower blocks are accusing the government of letting them fall towards bankruptcy by doing nothing to remove flammable cladding.

Nearly two years after the Grenfell disaster thousands of people in similar buildings are still facing huge bills to remove the material and inflated service charges in the meantime.

At Northpoint in Bromley, south London, the required 24-hour waking watch has increased annual service charges from £2,000 to £7,000.

Resident Ritu Saha told talkRADIO: "You almost have to choose - either go bankrupt or safeguard your family's life. We feel abandoned."

 A fire exit sign at Northpoint in south London is fixed to flammable cladding.

Approximately 370 high-rise buildings still have dangerous ACM cladding on them that does not meet safety standards, with different flammable material attached to other buildings.

Mark Bottrell, who lives at City Gate in Manchester, was made redundant in January and faces eviction if a cladding bill comes through.

"Having your home taken away is horrendous," he said. "I'll suddenly become homeless. I won't have anywhere to go."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: "We have been abundantly clear that private building owners and developers must replace dangerous cladding quickly, or they will pay more later. Leaseholders must be protected from these costs."

While £400 million was pledged by the government to remove flammable cladding from state-owned tower blocks, builders and freeholders of private high-rises have attempted to force flat-owners to fund removal.

Northpoint residents have been quoted £70,000 each in addition to ongoing waking watch costs.

Unable to pay or sell their properties, they claim they are trapped in a "spiral of debt".

Rachel Guy, 57, lives on the top floor with a mother in her 80s.

She said: "We're told flames will get from the bottom to the top of this building in seven minutes. It took my mother fifteen minutes to get down the stairs. The situation is frightening."

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