Tower block residents slam landlord over fire safety

Enfield Town building said to have multiple problems but residents remain in dark, reports James Cracknell

Chris Dey outside Tower Point, where the Conservative councillor lives
Chris Dey outside Tower Point, where the Conservative councillor lives

Residents living in an Enfield Town tower block say they have been left waiting for over a year to find out what fire safety defects have been found in their building.

Like thousands of others around the UK affected by the building safety crisis following the Grenfell disaster in 2017, residents of Tower Point in Sydney Road were told last year that fire safety defects had been discovered.

It means they cannot obtain an EWS1 certificate to show that their building complies with updated government standards, and has left leaseholders unable to sell or remortgage their homes until the defects are rectified.

But residents have told the Dispatch that since being made aware of problems last year, landlord Comer Property Management has not explained exactly what the defects are and what work is needed to rectify them, leaving them unable to make an application to the government’s Building Safety Fund (BSF), set up to offer financial support to affected residents.

One of Tower Point’s residents is a local Conservative councillor, Chris Dey, who said: “There are leaseholders who have babies and want to buy a house but they can’t, and there are people who are retiring and want to sell but they can’t either.

“What we want to know is what specifically needs to be done to get the EWS1 form? What will it cost and what work needs to be done?”

Another resident of the twelve-storey block, who did not want to be named, said: “We don’t have the most dangerous cladding but it appears there are defects and the building is not in line with current regulations. It basically means we are un-mortgageable at the present time.

“We are not happy with the way they [Comer Property] have approached this whole situation and the lack of due diligence they have done. They started writing to us a year ago and the first thing they said was there may be problems with cladding and that we might need a sprinkler system and compartmentation.”

Residents say they know a fire safety survey was conducted at the start of this year, but despite repeated requests the landlord has not revealed what problems were found. Although at one point they were told of an issue with the timber decking on their balconies, after querying what work was needed and what it would cost, they were ignored.

The resident added: “I think their strategy is to do the low-hanging fruit with the balcony decking before they show their hand and put everything on the leaseholders. They have run down the clock on the Building Safety Fund.”

The deadline for submitting a BSF application was 30th June. Cllr Dey says he is furious because he knows that residents living in a similar building in Harrow, also owned by Comer but not directly managed by its property arm, successfully applied for money through the fund.

The Grange ward councillor said: “At Platinum House [in Harrow], because it is a different management company they have applied to BSF and successfully had it accepted. It is directly comparable because it is a Comer building.

“My biggest point is they have not acted as a responsible landlord and company. They should have been proactively applying to BSF and monitoring communication with us.”

Meanwhile, residents say that building insurance costs for Tower Point have risen by 50% since the fire safety issues first arose. Cllr Dey added: “This has brought us together as a block of residents. There is a sense of injustice and unfairness. It doesn’t feel like they are being honest, decent landlords.”

Comer Property Management was contacted for comment but did not respond.