Residents of a high rise in Croydon may have to pay for the removal of the type of cladding that was found in Grenfell Tower, at a price of £2m- a tribunal has heard.
Those living at Citiscape on Frith Road have been told that they may be liable for the replacement, and this decision is likely to be implemented in a month’s time.
This lands individual tenants with a bill of up to £31,300 to re-fit the building with cladding that is fireproof. The current cladding found on Citiscape was also used on Grenfell Tower and was a key factor leading to the death of at least 79 people.
In the aftermath of the tragedy in 2017, residents at Citiscape in Croydon were told about the coating and it was suggested by First Point Property Services, that manage the high rise, at the time that leaseholders may be liable for the costs. Costs were initially quoted at £500,000.
“People were upset and angry, but not that outraged because they were concerned about their safety,” said Anuj Vats, leader of the newly formed Citiscape Residents Association.
First Point then went directly to a tribunal, to ensure “independent judgement on the most appropriate way forward”.
Three weeks prior to the tribunal, residents were told that the cost of works had quadrupled, now being estimated at £2m.
Vats said: “It all seemed like a well-planned move to catch us off guard, giving us less than three weeks to prepare for such a big legal hearing.”
First Port Property Services said: “We brought this case before the tribunal not in conflict of residents, but to receive an independent judgement on the most appropriate way forward.
“The situation is causing understandable concern for residents and, whatever decision the tribunal makes, we will continue working hard to support them during this challenging time.
The safety of residents remains our first and most important priority.”
A feeling on both sides of the dispute is the complete lack of support and direction by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
First Point said: “We would welcome formal guidance from Government on what support can be made available to leaseholders affected by such situations up and down the country.”
Vats said: “The government made the regulations and these builders exploited them. We are the ones who are suffering. Isn’t it the government’s moral responsibility to save each and every citizen?”
The Grenfell Tower fire took place in June 2017, with an estimated 79 people or more killed in the blaze. Many have blamed the fire on insufficient cladding on the outside of the building, as its polyethene core did nothing to protect inhabitants.
In the months after the fire, at least 52 tower blocks were found to have the same cheap cladding, all of which were later found to be unsafe.