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Leaseholders told they must foot cladding bill

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

Leaseholders in a London apartment block covered in cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower must pay at least £500,000 to make the building safe.

The 95-apartment Citiscape development in Croydon hit the headlines after residents received bills of more than £30,000 each for replacement cladding.

The case was taken to tribunal, not by the owner, but the property management company, FirstPort Property Services, which wanted a definitive answer on who was responsible for footing the bill, which it has been estimated could hit more than £2m.

Leaseholders said replacing the cladding should not be added to their service charge as it was not a matter of disrepair “because the cladding remains as designed and constructed”, and it did not fall under “periodical expenditure”.

However, the chairman of the London residential property first tier tribunal, Angus Andrew, ruled against the, saying “if the manager is obliged to do work … the tenants are obliged to contribute to the cost although they remain entitled to dispute the reasonableness of the cost”.

The ruling could have far reaching implications – with leaseholders in apartments across the country whose buildings included potentially dangerous cladding potentially facing similar charges.

The tribunal said the residents could have claims against other parties, ranging from the government and local authorities to construction companies.

However he said no claims could reasonably commence until Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s public inquiry into the causes of the Grenfell fire had reported.

A spokesperson for First Port was reported in The Guardian as saying: “We brought this case before the tribunal not in conflict with residents, but to receive an independent judgment on the most appropriate way to ensure their safety in the long term.”

The RLA has reviewed its fire safety advice for residential landlords, with an overview available here. Owners of apartments or purpose built flats may also find the Guidance on fire safety in individual flats useful.

In addition to the new guidance the RLA is now offering online and classroom fire safety training courses which cover:

  • The different legislation relating to fire safety.
  • The different building/property types and which pieces of the above legislation apply
  • How to conduct fire risk assessments and protect both your tenants and your property from fire
  • Practical tips on fire safety and with reference to the LACORS fire safety guide.

For more information on our training courses click here.

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.

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