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Croydon Citiscape residents hit with £2 million bill to replace 'Grenfell' cladding

The Grenfell Tower fire killed 71 people. Credit: PA

Residents in a tower block with the same cladding as Grenfell Tower could be forced to pay upwards of £2 million to have it replaced.

Citiscape in Croydon has the same aluminium composite material (ACM) panels that fuelled the spread of the Grenfell fire.

The privately-owned high-rise block is one of 228 across the country which failed fire safety tests carried out by the Department for Communities and Local Government in the weeks after the blaze, in which 71 people died.

First Port Property Services, the building's property manager, was advised in August that the cladding must be replaced. The company has since written to residents twice, outlining that costs will likely be covered through service charges, which would be borne collectively by leaseholders.

The initial cost of replacing the cladding was estimated to be around £500,000. A revised figure published last week placed the cost at between £1.8 and £2 million.

In the latest letter First Port Property Services said: "We know that this work and the costs are unwelcome. However, as your property manager, our first priority has to be your safety."

Citiscape in Croydon has the same aluminium composite material panels, thought to have fuelled the spread of the Grenfell fire. Credit: PA

With 95 flats affected, each household's share could be between approximately £13,300 and £31,300, to be paid in instalments from March 1.

In addition, the cost of fire marshals, which have been in place since June and will need to remain until cladding work is completed, may bump up the costs by about £300,000 per year.

A hearing at a first-tier property tribunal will take place on February 6 to determine who should foot the bill.

Local MP Steve Reed raised concerns last year with Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, who replied he would urge landlords to "not attempt to pass on costs to leaseholders".

He said all local authorities and housing associations in discussion with the department were choosing not to pass the cost on, as were some private companies.

Alexandra Blanc, 37, who bought her flat in 2014, said: "This situation has become out of control.

"I received a letter telling me I have to pay more than I earn in one year salary in six weeks for something I am not even responsible for.

"I'm very worried about the prospect of losing my flat. I have contacted estate agents to try and sell it but they told me this flat will never sell under those circumstances.

"My equity has also become negative since this debacle."

A FirstPort Property Services spokesman said: "We are working hard to ensure residents are safe and supported during what we know is a challenging time.

"We recognise that the potential costs are significant and are committed to minimising them, while putting residents' safety first.

"As the property manager, we are discharging our responsibilities under the leasehold agreements and working with residents as closely as possible to find a solution to this very complex situation.

"The Government has pledged to offer support to owners and residents of high-rise buildings.

"However, given the pressing need to undertake these essential safety works and the potential costs to leaseholders, we and others in the property industry welcome any clarity the Government can provide on what support will be made available."