Lewisham residents pay £23,000 per year to insure flats with cladding

Blocks of flats in Lewisham. Pic: Des Blenkinsopp

Tenants in Lewisham’s newly built flats are expected to put down £1,000 a year to cover the cladding insurance bill due to the the risk of fire caused by the material.

Many of the current residents at Dane House in Sydenham moved into the 26 flat complex after its completion in 2019. They were unaware of the use of cladding on the third floor, which had been deemed a fire risk by insurers, collectively paying around £23,000 yearly.

Their risk assessment has led to the insurance bill surge, leaving homeowners worried that they will struggle to sell their £600,000 properties in the future.

Timur Strekalov, a software developer who has lived in Dane House since 2019, told London News Online: “I’m somewhat concerned about the cladding issue making the flat hard to sell. I’ve had friends that couldn’t sell their flat because of that. They had to wait until everything was fixed.”

Crest Nicholson, the construction company that built Dane House, have shown no interest in dealing with the cladding issue on the top floor of these buildings, said London News Online.

Ellie Reeves, Labour MP for Lewisham West & Penge and Shadow Justice Minister, addressed the issue in the House of Commons on January 30 where she emphasised the need for the developers, Crest Nicholson, to remove the cladding from the buildings and the government to ensure that her “constituents will no longer face such astronomical bills”.

Ellie Reeves told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s outrageous that Dane House residents are facing insurance bills of around £1,000 a year. This is more than six times the amount they were paying just over four years ago.”

The cost-of-living crisis in the UK isn’t making the situation any easier as tenants have to deal with costly spending. Ellie is hoping that the government will find a resolution soon.

Mike Popesku, another resident at Dane House told MyLondon: “Now we have huge inflation, it’s too much. We’re trying to manage the costs but we’re stuck with one insurer because no one else will insure it [the building].”

He added: “When we moved in we never knew the cladding was a problem. It was only after Grenfell that things changed.”

An inquiry into the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire which killed 72 and injured 74 found that the polyethylene-filled aluminium composite panels were responsible for the fire spreading so rapidly. The material on the building’s exterior is one of the most easily ignited plastics and emits lots of heat when burning.

Since the fire, over 400 high-rise buildings surveyed across the country have been found to be using external cladding material similar to the type used on Grenfell Tower.

A Crest Nicholson spokesperson said: “The materials used on Dane House were compliant with building regulations at the time of construction and are also compliant with recently revised building regulations.”

Crest Nicholson confirmed that after reviews and a minor replacement of balcony decking was undertaken, a commissioned fire engineer deemed the premises safe with the issue of an EWS1 (an External Wall System Fire Review certificate).

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