Four years after Grenfell, homeowners caught in building safety crisis face financial ruin Business News

Four years after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, hundreds of thousands of residents of worthless and dangerous apartments face the crushing emotional and financial burden of a building security crisis that threatens many with the loss of their homes and lives. going bankrupt.

So far, the government has failed to even recognize the scale of the problems, let alone craft a credible plan to address them, leaving residents feeling helpless and abandoned.

Ralph Glenc, 43, describes his situation as a “nightmare that never ends”. He is stranded in an apartment in Kennington Park Square in south-east London, unable to sell his house due to serious fire safety flaws that will cost him £ 25,000 to repair. Others in the development are facing bills of £ 60,000.

“It cost me my job. I had depression last year and am on antidepressants,” he says.

“Over the past few years, all of my energy and focus has been devoted to surviving and not giving up. “

Glenc’s debts are rising and his apartment now appears empty after having to sell some of his furniture to pay for the interim security measures.

He says he is “furious” that the developer, Barratt Homes, has not taken any responsibility for the problems.

“It’s so unfair that they can continue to run their own business operations like nothing has happened, when we have had to put our lives on hold. How can you assess the loss of time, health, and opportunity? “

One of Glenc’s neighbors, Anna, is going through an equally traumatic time. Every day after school, her 14-year-old daughter waits behind her for hours, too scared to come home alone.

When her mother is done working at a local supermarket, the two head to the family’s apartment. The stress of the pandemic, along with the fear that their house would catch fire, left Anna’s daughter suffering from anxiety.

“I am absolutely terrified for the safety of all of us. I worked throughout Covid in a supermarket. My anxiety and stress levels are at their peak, ”says Anna.

“I had to be a lot more creative with my food budget – cut down on food and shop more, we also had to cut down on electricity.”

She has already had to pay huge bills for fire patrols and alarm systems even before the impending charges of £ 30,000 to fix the work of Barratt and his contractors.

Barratt’s own investigation last year shows fire safety measures did not meet building regulations, but the developer has so far not offered to pay and has stopped responding to letters and inquiries. tenant emails.

A Barratt spokesperson said the company was “aware of the challenges facing tenants and residents of Kennington Park Square and appreciates how worrying this must be for them.”

They added that, “Although we have no legal responsibility, we have worked to assess and understand the development issues and are committed to working with the Managing Agent and the Free Owner to help them find a solution. for tenants and residents “.

Like many developments, Kennington Park Square was approved by a home inspector despite not being in compliance when it was built in 2009. Even though Barratt’s work was of substandard quality, the company escaped legal liability. ends six years after the completion of a building.

The National House Building Council’s new home warranties expire after 10 years, leaving perfect tenants without a legal avenue to make a claim. Under current law, consumers enjoy greater legal protection when they purchase a household appliance than the home where they have installed it.

An intrusive investigation ordered in February 2020 confirmed what residents feared. He revealed a series of shoddy construction work that left the building vulnerable to the type of fire that engulfed Grenfell. Their apartments were not mortgageable.

While the siding itself had “limited combustibility,” the walls were filled with phenolic foam insulation, a cheap, commonly used and highly combustible material. This meant that a small electrical fire, the kind that started in Grenfell Tower four years ago, would have enough fuel to become hell unleashed.

Surveyors also found that the cavity barriers – which help contain a fire – were faulty or missing, so the flames could pass through the apartments in the development, leaving residents little time to escape.

If the five buildings that make up Kennington Park Square had been constructed in accordance with plans submitted to the local authority, they would have complied with fire regulations, but the 2020 survey showed Barratt and his contractors had failed. not followed these plans. Corners were cut and different materials used.

The £ 5 billion building security fund set up by the government to help pay for remedies does not cover most of Kennington Park Square’s flaws. It focuses narrowly on the coating. Anything behind the facade of the building is not eligible, and residents must pay to fix issues they didn’t help create.

Approximately 3,500 buildings over 18 meters may be eligible for government funding while …

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This notice was published: 2021-06-13 20:27:08

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