TRAPPED FOR 10 YEARS
»»Residents face decade-long wait for removal of cladding »»12,000 buildings wrapped in flammable materials
FLAT owners face a 10-YEAR wait for fire-risk cladding to be removed.
Only 200 teams are available to do the removal work – typically at a rate of one a year on buildings over 18 metres high.
That means those at the bottom of the list could be waiting until 2031.
The Association of Residential Managing Agents also fears demand might lift prices – while Brexit could cause bottlenecks in getting materials.
ARMA chief executive Dr Nigel Glen said: “There’s a serious shortage of people who can fix buildings. There just aren’t very many cladders and scaffolders lying around ready to leap in. We have serious worries about this.”
In the wake of the Grenfell inferno, which killed 72 people in West London in 2017, ministers pledged to strip lethal material from high-rises. While 422
buildings were identified as priorities, analysts estimate there are 2,000 high-rise buildings in England with dangerous cladding. Another 12,000 below 18 metres are wrapped in flammable materials and their repair timeline is uncertain.
A £5billion Building Safety Fund exists to remove cladding from the taller buildings. But the overall cost could soar and hundreds of thousands of owners face bills unless building owners, developers or the Government pay. Many have been invoiced for sums ranging from £40,000 to £115,000.
Leaseholders also face crippling interim costs for safety measures and patrols to live in homes effectively worthless as lenders refuse to sign off mortgages.
Will Martin, 32, from campaign group UK Cladding Action, said: “Thousands
who live in unsafe, unsellable homes cannot wait years for these buildings to be made safe. They want to start families, take up jobs – move on with their lives.”
At Royal Artillery Quays in Woolwich, South East London, 400 owners face a £13million bill if a fund application fails. Data shows of 2,820 applications to the scheme, just 624 have been approved.
Office manager Maggie Sychta has cut £80,000 off her £360,000 two-bed flat.
Maggie, 38, said: “This place was once a dream, and it’s turned into a nightmare. I can’t sell, can’t move out, soon I won’t be able to afford to stay.”
A Housing Ministry spokesman said: “Works are complete or under way in around 95% of high-rises identified at the start of 2020 as having unsafe cladding – through £5billion funding.”
The Sunday Mirror has launched a campaign to get justice for homeowners saddled with unsafe cladding