Combustible cladding residents under huge stress

It has emerged that leasehold residents of a tower block that still has combustible cladding are suffering high levels of stress as the building owner and the developer refuse to pay for the essential removal of the cladding.

Leasehold residents in the Northpoint building in Bromley in South London have been told they must pay up to £70,000 each to complete the £4m job of removing the cladding - a project that is required under government legislation and building regulations rules. They have already paid £8,000 each for emergency safety measures and many of the flats are now considered unmortgageable.

The government has put aside £400m to pay for work on social housing blocks, but private buildings are expected to be completed by owners. There are 96 such private tower blacks that have been identified and costs are estimated at £250m to make these buildings safe.

The leaseholders at Northpoint have refused to pay for remediation work as the original cladding work carried out was certified as compliant with building regulations. Additionally the original developer Taylor Wimpey sold the freehold more than a decade ago and says it bears no legal responsibility.

Residents are now complaining of high levels of stress and one has been hospitalised with high blood pressure. The flats cannot be remortgaged due to the cladding and most have lost any equity they once had. There is also concern that if essential work is not carried out by April, the entire building could be condemned.

The government have pointed out that councils had their backing to carry out the work and that they could recover the cost from building owners. However, councils have not been willing to risk this. Housing secretary James Brokenshire has stated that freehold owners need to protect their leaseholders from additional costs and many have already done so.