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UK condo residents protest $44K bill to replace unsafe cladding

The cladding in Citiscape complex is the same as what was used in Grenfell Tower
January 28, 2018 02:50PM

(Credit: Pixabay)

Residents in a London condo are reeling after learning that cladding declared unsafe following the Grenfell Tower tragedy is in their building and that they have to foot the bill to have it replaced.

Each resident at Citiscape complex is on the hook for more than $44,000 as of March, according to the Guardian — though the residents are disputing the bill.

“This situation is out of control. I received a letter telling me I have to pay more than I earn in one year’s salary in six week’s time for something I am not even responsible for,” resident Alex Blanc told the outlet.

But the question of responsibility is in question. The costs of replacing the flammable cladding in social housing buildings is being shouldered by the government, but, in the private sector, the decision on how to pay for the alterations is up to the building owner.

In the case of Citiscape, real estate mogul Vincent Tchenguiz of Proxima GR Properties is the owner. He reportedly owns 300,000 UK freeholds and 10 Hilton hotels. Tchenguiz appointed FirstPort to represent the company as an agent for Citiscape.

“We know that this work and the costs are unwelcome,” FirstPort said in a statement to the Guardian. “However, as your property manager, our first priority has to be your safety.”

The agent also noted that the longer payment collection takes, the more costs of fire patrols will run. (The cost of the precautionary fire patrols costs nearly $5,700 per week, which the agent plans on charging to residents.)

A tribunal on the dispute charges with residents on one side and FirstPort on the other will be held February 6.

The fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017 killed a presumed 80 people, though not all remains were found. Though cladding was not the cause of the fire, it came under scrutiny for its flammability. The replacement of the material in UK buildings has been slow and fraught. [Guardian]Erin Hudson