Developer to cover cladding replacement costs

Developer to cover cladding replacement costs

BARRATT HOMES has announced it will pay the £2m bill to replace cladding at the Citiscape development in Croydon.

Residents of the complex were told recently they would have to pay £31,300 per flat to fund cladding removal and replacement. The building is owned by Proxima GR Properties, which stated it is ‘not its responsibility’ to pay for the removal and replacement of cladding that failed the government’s fire safety tests undertaken after the Grenfell Tower fire.

The £2m bill worked out at £31,300 per flat, and the company ‘denied responsibility’ in paying towards the work, stating that the recladding will only take place ‘once full funds are in place’. Last October, residents received letters saying that they would have to pay £5,000 to £6,000 per flat to replace the cladding.

Last year, the government told Proxima to remove the cladding, while Sajid Javid, Housing Secretary, said that the landlord ‘was responsible for ensuring resident’s safety’. Proxima ‘insisted that it is not obliged to cover the costs’, warning leaseholders that the bill ‘will increase if they delay payment’. The site has fire wardens patrolling ‘constantly’ at a cost of around £4,000 per week, another cost the company is ‘planning to pass on to leaseholders’.

The situation had then been that removal would not begin ‘until £2m in costs are paid, either by residents or the government’. FirstPort, which manages the development, stated that the total bill is over £132,000. It had originally estimated cladding removal would cost under £500,000 before increasing it to £2m, with work not set to begin until September ‘at the earliest’ due to the revision.

Most recently, leaseholders were ordered to pay after a tribunal decided against them, as ‘they, rather than the management company, were obliged to cover the costs’, but Inside Housing has now reported on the government’s announcement that Barratt Homes will pay for the removal, with Mr Javid stating that fire safety costs will be covered by the company.

Leaseholders were told at a residents’ association meeting last night of the development, with Barratt to ‘cover future and backdated costs relating to employing a fire warden and the removal and replacement of unsafe cladding’, despite only being the original developer and ‘not the freeholder or managing agent’ of Citiscape.

A government spokesperson stated that officials have ‘been in discussions’ with private sector landlords, freeholders and house builders over similar such issues, with a spokesperson for Barratt adding: ‘Following the recent ruling that the costs for necessary recladding at Citiscape will fall on the individual apartment owners, many of whom were originally Barratt customers when it was built in 2002, we have decided that we will pay for the work.

‘Citiscape was built in line with all building regulations in place at the time of construction. While we don’t own the building or have any liability for the cladding, we are committed to putting our customers first. The important thing now is ensuring that owners and residents have peace of mind.’

Steve Reed, Labour MP for Croydon North, commented: ‘This is fantastic news for residents in Citiscape who were facing unaffordable debt to make their homes safe. But this applies only to Citiscape. The government’s intransigent refusal to set out a plan to remove flammable cladding wherever it’s found has left tens of thousands of residents living in fear. Instead of relying on the goodwill of builders the government must accept responsibility for the failure of their safety regulations and take all flammable cladding down before there’s a repeat of Grenfell Tower.'

Mr Javid added: ‘I applaud Barratt Developments’ decision to cover the costs of fire safety works. They have listened to the concerns of Citiscape residents, engaged with government and have done the right thing. Other building owners and house builders in the private sector should follow the example set by Barratt Developments to protect leaseholders from costs and begin essential fire safety works. I want to see all leaseholders in this position get the peace of mind they deserve and I am keeping this under review.’