Private landlord bills residents for fire wardens
RESIDENTS OF Babbage Point in Greenwich, which has combustible cladding on its exterior, have seen the price for 24 hour fire wardens added to their service charges.
Construction News reported on the move by building owners Durkan, with leaseholder residents charged £1,455 each by the company for the cost of ‘waking watch fire patrols’ after the building’s cladding was discovered to be combustible. This has been added to their annual service charge, and residents told the news source that the company has also ‘yet to set out plans to remove the cladding, despite being made aware of its presence almost 12 months ago’.
After combustible aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding was found last July during inspections, a review by London Fire Brigade (LFB) in October instructed Durkan to change its evacuation policy and install the waking watch, with two patrollers ‘permanently stationed’ since October to ‘raise the alarm and evacuate residents in the event of a fire’. Since being told of the extra charges in April 2018, some residents ‘have refused to pay the waking watch part of the bill’.
The organisations working on Durkan’s behalf, London Block Management and Glenageary, told residents in May that non payment ‘would be a breach of lease’, with the cladding affecting the sixth and seventh floors but charges added to leaseholders’ bills ‘on all floors’. A Durkan spokeswoman responded that it had ‘implemented all’ of LFB’s recommendations, and ‘these had been signed off by an independent fire expert’.
She commented: ‘Cladding is a complex issue affecting the whole industry and like many of our peers we await further guidance in this important area. We understand that some of our residents have concerns, but the specific design of the building and the advice we have received, indicate that Babbage Point falls into a low-risk category.
‘We also know that some of our residents have concerns about charges for the waking watch that we put in place as a direct response to guidance from London Fire Brigade. London Block Management is writing separately to leaseholders to update them of the situation. We remain fully committed to working with leaseholders and tenants to address concerns and find a way forward.’
The shared ownership tenants in the building have seen their intermediary landlord, housing association Peabody Estates, agree to pay the waking watch costs.