Residents in block with Grenfell-style cladding face £2m bill


Residents in a privately-owned block of flats in south London with similar cladding to that on Grenfell Tower may be forced to pay around £2 million for replacement panels to be installed. Citiscape in Croydon is one of 228 buildings across the country which failed fire safety tests in the weeks after the Grenfell fire, in which 71 people died.

Firstport Property Services, the building's property manager, was advised in August that measures should be taken to replace the cladding. It has now written twice to residents, outlining that costs will likely be covered through service charges, paid for collectively by leaseholders. The cost of replacing the unsafe cladding has been estimated at between £1.8 and £2 million.

We know that this work and the costs are unwelcome. However, as your property manager, our first priority has to be your safety. 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.

– Firstport Property Services letter to residents

Local MP Steve Reed raised concerns last year about costs to residents and the government has urged landlords to not attempt to pass on the bill to leaseholders. Communities Secretary Sajid Javid 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.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Citiscape residents meet the costs. It states that they are calling on people to support them as the government system has "alienated" them. Resident Alexandra Blanc, who bought her flat in 2014, says the situation has become out of control and she is worried about the prospect of losing her home.

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.

– Firstport Property Services spokesman

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