Cardinal Lofts: Family fears bankruptcy after being told they may not return to flats for a year

Tanya Mercer has been to speak to residents at the tower block.

People living on the top three floors of a tower block that has been deemed unsafe have been told they may not return home for a year.

Fifteen flats at Cardinal Lofts in Ipswich were made to leave their homes on 15 November after Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said it received a report that led them to conclude there was a fire-risk and parts of the building were unsafe.

Residents were taken to a nearby sports hall to spend the night and now are being housed in temporary accommodation.

Craig Bennett and his wife Julianne Bennett moved out of their flat and into a rented house because they have a nine-month-old daughter.

The couple now don't know when they will be able to return back to the flat.

They then decided to rent out the flat, but due to it now being uninhabitable they have lost their tenant and now are worried they will face bankruptcy.

Mr Bennett said: "My flat is now unrentable, now that we can't rent it we have got a hole of a mortgage, maintenance, and ground rent that we have no way of possibly covering.

"I have a nine-month-old daughter, I have to seemingly legally still have to pay for this building, I have to pay for a roof over our head elsewhere now, the situation for me is dire, I'm looking at losing my flat, I'm looking at potential bankruptcy."

All leaseholders and residents have received a letter from the company which manages the building saying remedial work needed to make the top three floors habitable again could take up to 12 months.

The building has been at the centre of long-running concerns over fire safety and cladding, dating back to the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

Since then residents have campaigned to get the issues rectified but after the evacuation of the top three floors, there's even more anguish.

Alex Dickin bought his flat to get himself on the property ladder, and has been unable to sell and now has moved out.

Mr Dickin said: "I am completely trapped and the more that this drags on the longer I am forced to put my life on hold.

"We are saying that our building and our homes must be made safe, we're not being listened to lessons have not been learned and now residents have been kicked out of their homes and only because of that work is now going to start."

Alex says he regrets having bought his flat as a first rung on the property ladder .

A spokesman for management company Grey GR told ITV News Anglia their "primary focus is the safety of residents."

"Based on the latest plans provided by our contractors, the initial work could take 12 months to complete.

"We have shared the timeline for the works with leaseholders and will keep them up to date with progress.''

The company said it will also continue to provide alternative accommodation for residents on the top three floors.