'Devastated' flat owners' plea after £20,000 bill to fix cladding issues

  • Watch the report by Owain Phillips

Flat owners living at a development in Cardiff have been handed a bill for more than £20,000 each to fix cladding issues and other safety defects at their properties.

Many living at the Sealock Warehouse development in the city centre told ITV News they cannot afford to pay for the works.

Barrie James helped his son with a deposit to buy a flat and said the news came as a "complete shock" to them.

Tower blocks around Wales are subject to regular inspections following the Grenfell Tower tragedy

The 2017 Grenfell tower fire brought the issue of cladding and fire safety into sharp focus.

Since then, it has emerged around a third of high rise buildings, which are classified as over 18 metres in height, in Wales needing some sort of works to rectify problems.

Barrie told ITV News he has "no more money to give."

"There’s no collateral in the property as he only moved in 2018. So he, like so many others here at Sealock, have no money to invest into this and they’ve not been given any help. 

Barrie James, whose son owns a property at Sealock Warehouse, said the news came as a "shock"

"The Welsh Government are a little bit incoherent from the point of view they’re saying they’ll give a fund, it’s going to be bigger and better than in England - but they haven’t actually implemented that yet.” 

  • Selling is "impossible"

John Humphrey's property was up for sale before receiving notification earlier this month that work was needed at the site.

John Humphrey's flat was for sale before he was handed the bill

John claims the issue had made his flat unsellable. "The property is actually being marketed for sale.

"This stopped everything in its tracks and the financial implications are going to be devastating."

The development is between eleven and eighteen metres in height. The UK Government have a scheme to help residents of buildings more than eighteen metres high who have problems with defective cladding in England.

Both John and Barrie said they are worried any Welsh scheme will have similar rules meaning they will be exempt from financial support.

Barrie James (left) and John Humphrey (right) are both appealing for help in paying cladding bills.

The defects at Sealock Warehouse were discovered during an annual fire risk assessment which the management company say it is required to carry out. 

The scope and extent of these inspections have been increasing year-on-year as a result of industry guidance. 

In a statement, Scanlan's told ITV News it has an "overriding responsibility" to make the building safe.

"Cladding defects and issues relating to compartmentation such as internal fire doors have been identified in the latest inspection. As the managing agent, we have an overriding responsibility to make the building safe and we have employed a building surveyor to obtain competitive quotes from third-party contractors for the necessary remedial works. 

"Unfortunately, there are no building warranties or third party developers to pursue for funding for the remedial works, nor is there any legal basis under the terms of the lease structure to recover money from the freeholder."

It added that without government intervention, it has "no alternative" but to ask the leaseholders to pay.

"We do not want to be in this position and we have absolute sympathy with all leaseholders. We share their concerns", it said.

In a statement the Welsh Government said: "We have committed to creating a safety fund but we have been clear that we want to go beyond the remediation of cladding. We’ve already committed £32 million for building safety in 2021-22 and we intend to make an announcement shortly. It remains unclear what funding Wales might receive as a result of spending in England - it is still our expectation that Wales should receive its fair share”