Homeowners fear they could go bankrupt after Stevenage tower block deemed unsafe

Flat owners living in a tower block in Stevenage fear they will be left with a massive bill after their building was found to have unsafe cladding and other defects.  

Residents at Vista Tower discovered the brand-new flats they'd bought in 2016 were built with cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower.

As a result, each flat owner is now being told to pay £600 a month for fire wardens because the building doesn't meet safety regulations.

It's estimated it will cost around £10 million to make the building safe.

It means that residents are struggling to sell their flats, and some are afraid that they could go bankrupt.

Fire wardens have now had to be brought in. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"It's very difficult and it's quite stressful for us, because we know that the bills are coming and we don't know if we will be able to pay for it," resident Monika Farys said.

"It's quite stressful living in the house knowing it's unsafe and you put your children at risk by putting them to sleep every night knowing that the building doesn't meet the regulation."

Residents took part in a demonstration on Saturday to highlight the problem.

The company that runs the building, Inspired Property Management, took over the flats two years ago and is trying to recover the full cost of making them safe from the government's Building Safety Fund.

However, only the cladding is currently covered, meaning home owners are fearful they will have to continue forking out hefty bills.

"The thing that really makes me angry is that my children are going to suffer," said resident Audrey Ou.

"If I go bankrupt or if I'm homeless I will have to bring my children with me and they don't really deserve this. We've done everything right, and I bought a flat to make sure they were protected. That's not the case anymore."

Vista Tower residents Audrey Ou, Sophie Bicherner and Monika Farys. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A government spokesperson told ITV News Anglia: “We are spending £5bn to fully fund the replacement of all unsafe cladding systems in the highest risk buildings and are making the biggest improvements to building safety in a generation.

“We are prioritising the replacement of unsafe cladding systems which are a higher risk and can act as a fire accelerant in high risk blocks. Funding will cover all costs associated with replacing unsafe cladding systems for eligible buildings.

“Government funding does not absolve building owners of the responsibility to ensure their buildings are safe. Where developers or contractors have undertaken defective work, for example missing cavity barriers or sub-standard fire doors, building owners should take action to recover costs from those responsible.”