Residents told to pay thousands of pounds for faults they didn’t know about when they moved in, reports James Cracknell
Edmonton residents caught up in the nationwide scandal over cladding have had their application to a £3.5billion government fund rejected – despite their balconies posing a fire hazard.
Leaseholders at Prowse Court in Fore Street will have to foot bills of between £12,000 and £15,000 per flat despite not being made aware of the flaws in their building’s design when they moved in.
Fire safety standards have been tightened in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017, but this has led to thousands of people living in blocks of flats across the country being told that their buildings are now deemed unsafe. It has meant they have been unable to move as banks won’t lend them a mortgage until they make the necessary repairs.
At Prowse Court, while the main structure does not have flammable cladding, the block’s inset balconies are timber-clad and residents have been told it must all be replaced. Housing secretary Robert Jenrick launched the government’s new cladding fund in February to help leaseholders pay the bills they have been landed with, but it was criticised for not going far enough and leaving some residents to still pay significant costs.
Prowse Court resident Basim Jafar found out last week that the problem with the building’s balconies was not eligible for any award from the fund. He told the Dispatch: “Our application to the fund was on a wing and a prayer. The fund expressly excludes balconies unless they are integral with the cladding.
“The government issued advice on the removal of timber from balconies and then went ahead and excluded any such work from the fund knowing that leaseholders would have to pay – and if they can’t pay, forfeit their leases.”
Residents of Prowse Court face further problems because of the complex ownership structure of the development, which was completed in 2015. In some other cases, housing associations have helped to cover the costs incurred to residents, but Prowse Court is owned by an offshore property investor, Adriatic Land, which has denied responsibility and refused to pay.
Another company, Homeground Management, was appointed as the building’s freehold manager by Adriatic Land, but said in a statement last year that “the onus must be on the government to resolve the challenges in buildings like this”.
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “Only buildings which meet the criteria for the Building Safety Fund, as set out in the prospectus, are eligible for funding.
“The government has been clear that building safety is the responsibility of the building owner and they should meet the costs of remediation without passing them on to leaseholders wherever possible.”