Housing : Social Tenants / BTL & HB Problems / Shortages / Grenfell Tower Fallout

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
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A little more on the cladding and safety issues following Grenfell Tower :


https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... r-disaster


Manchester: 367 tower blocks failed to meet fire standards after Grenfell.

Of 489 Greater Manchester tower blocks, 75% were deemed not to have met safety standards.



For once , I'll let the heading do the talking.

Most tenants of these " Cities In The Sky " will be social ones ... either LA or Housing Association.

What conclusion would YOU draw ?

Just how many potential death traps are there across the UK ?
The high cost of rents allied with a shortage in affordable housing laid bare by this article from today's Guardian :


https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... ers-report


UK surge in housing costs for poorest 'worst in western Europe.'

Report finds costs of housing for people earning £16,000 a year rose by 45% from 2010 to 2016.


The cost of a home for the lowest earners has risen faster in Britain than anywhere in western Europe, fuelling a “worrying” increase in homelessness, a Europe-wide investigation has found.

Housing costs for people who earn about £16,000 a year increased by 45% between 2010 and 2016, compared with an average rise of 10% for the lowest earners across Europe, according to a report by the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (Feantsa).

Only in Bulgaria, where property prices shot up after interest rate cuts, have costs risen more steeply for the lowest earners. They increased by about 1% a year in Italy and Ireland, and fell in the Netherlands and Spain.


The report concludes that in England the main cause of statutory homelessness is the termination of private rental contracts, when people cannot afford to find another home.

The number of households registering as homeless following the end of an assured shorthold tenancy has tripled since 2010-2011, it found. Their proportion out of the total number registered as homeless by local authorities increased from 11% in 2009-10 to almost one-third in 2016-17. In London, this proportion rose from 10% to 39% in the same period.

Britain’s near-bottom ranking for rising housing costs for the poorest in society is likely to heighten concern about the rapid rise in the number of rough sleepers.

The latest UK government figures showed 4,751 people were sleeping rough last autumn, up 15% on the previous year, with the largest numbers in Westminster, Brighton, Camden and Manchester. Shelter, one of the UK organisations involved in the report, said these figures showed “we have failed as a society”.

Freek Spinnewijn, the director of Feantsa, said: “Housing exclusion and homelessness have taken on dramatic proportions in the UK.

“For almost all indicators, the UK scores badly in a European perspective and the situation has often worsened over the last few years. Especially worrying is the massive increase in rough sleepers and homeless people in temporary accommodation. The situation of young people in the housing market is also becoming hopeless.”

Just over four in 10 poorer households in the UK are overburdened by housing costs, the report shows. This is defined as spending more than 40% of disposable income on housing and is just above the EU average.

Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, said: “The lack of genuinely affordable homes strikes at the heart of our homelessness crisis. It has left millions of families across the country trapped in expensive, unstable private renting.

“Every day at Shelter, we hear from families facing a daily struggle to stay in their home as they balance sky-high rents with putting food on the table. A situation made even worse by crippling welfare cuts.

“To put an end to our spiralling housing crisis, the government must urgently build many more genuinely affordable homes for ordinary families to rent.”

Homelessness has risen across Europe, with a 150% increase in Germany from 2014 to 2016, a 20% rise in the number of people in emergency shelters in Spain over the same period and an 8% increase in Denmark between 2015 and 2017.

In the Netherlands in 2015, 4,000 children were registered with local authorities as homeless, up 60% on 2013. Only two countries have seen reductions: Finland and Norway.

The report concluded: “Homelessness is a clear violation of human rights, which despite everything is chronic and significantly worsening in Europe. EU institutions should use the international and European standards and legal instruments to initiate a human rights-based approach to homelessness.”


And , folks , it will only get worse as demand will constantly exceed supply ... for , at least , a generation or , even , two.

Tent cities ?

Not as far fetched as that first sounds.

'ere in Worksop , one of our Astronomy Society members walked passed one ( Around 15 tents ) last Sunday , on public land , just off the canal towpath on his way to Sainsburys.

Mind you , with some of the rentals on offer from BTL landlords , and temporary hostels from the LAs , some will be definately better offf in tents !!!


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One " Category " feeling the full force of Government policy , working or not :


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-43503102

Almost 30,000 lone parent families made homeless in England in 2017.


Almost 30,000 single parent families were made homeless last year, up 8% on five years ago, according to new official figures.

Housing charity Shelter said government figures also reveal that nearly three-quarters of homeless households in England are lone parent families.

Shelter said lone parents were bearing the brunt of the housing crisis, by juggling part-time work and childcare.


The government said it was investing £1.2bn in tackling homelessness.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: "Of the thousands of families battling with the grim reality of homelessness, the vast majority are single parents."

Their limited incomes make it hard for them to contend with high private rents and welfare cuts, she added.

Safety net?'

Dalia Ben-Galim, policy director at charity Gingerbread, said more and more single parents were reaching out to the charity for advice and support when facing eviction and homelessness.

"The vast majority of single parents are working.

"But with a perfect storm of rising living costs, stagnating wages and changes to the benefit system eroding an essential safety net for families, single parents are hard hit and struggling to keep a roof above their children's heads."

She added that Universal Credit and the benefit cap must be reformed to reduce the disproportionate negative impact changes are having on single parents.

The vast majority of families with children will be housed in temporary accommodation rather than being left to sleep rough.

The statistics, published on Thursday, also show the number of households in temporary accommodation has risen by nearly two-thirds since 2010.

'Dangerous'

On 31 December last year, 78,930 households were in temporary accommodation, up 64% since the start of the decade.

The figure was also 4% higher than last year, when there were 75,740.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, said: "Temporary accommodation is often cramped, unsuitable and sometimes even dangerous.

"It can have a devastating impact on people's lives and mental health, and it's no place for anyone to call home."

Homelessness minister Heather Wheeler said: "Government is serious about reducing homelessness and rough sleeping - we're investing £1.2bn to 2020 to address the issue and next month sees the most ambitious legislation in decades to prevent homelessness come into force.

"These latest statistics show encouraging signs that our investment and targeted support for local authorities is having a positive impact.


For once , there ARE innocent victims here ... the children.
More on a recent decision for a housing development with only 4% ( 1 in 25 ) to be " Affordable " :


https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... rys-scheme

Sajid Javid faces battle over 4% affordable homes in Sainsbury's scheme.

Housing secretary approved 700-home development in Ilford which has 50% affordable housing policy.


The housing secretary, Sajid Javid, is facing a legal challenge after he approved a 700-home housing scheme by the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, which includes just 4% affordable housing.

The 29-storey development in Ilford, east London, will be built in a borough that has a stated policy that 50% of all new homes should be affordable. It estimates it needs an extra 15,000 affordable homes in the next 15 years, but Javid backed a scheme with just 27 affordable homes. The rest are expected to be sold for about £400,000 for a two bedroom flat.

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, branded the approval “outrageous” and said 4% was a “disgraceful” contribution. Labour’s shadow housing secretary, John Healey, said it was “a clear case of ministers backing private developer profit over the homes that local people need”.

A local residents group Ilford Noise is now preparing to request a judicial review of the decision after Javid accepted Sainsbury’s claim that the scheme would not be viable with any more affordable units. Javid’s report concluded: “There is no good reason to dispute the agreed conclusions of the financial experts.”

The decision came just weeks after Javid gave a speech insisting it is “totally unacceptable” for developers to claim they cannot afford to meet affordable housing promises.

He said: “It cheats communities of much-needed housing and infrastructure and gives new development a bad name.”

But in this case, where Sainsbury’s never promised more than 4%, he has allowed the developer to hugely undershoot the local target.

Across England, the number of affordable homes delivered by the so-called section 106 agreements with developers halved from 32,000 in 2008-09 to 16,000 in 2015-16, according to analysis by Oxford Brookes University.

“If we can’t build affordable housing in outer London where can we build it?” said Meenakshi Sharma, a co-founder of Ilford Noise, which has branded the amount of affordable housing in the Sainsbury’s scheme “ridiculous and insulting”. “It is the poorest people who are getting the shortest end of the stick.”

Sharma said the government had prioritised meeting total housing targets rather than seeking to meet the chronic shortage of affordable homes. Javid’s decision notice points out that the Sainsbury’s development would represent 60% of one year’s target for the whole of the borough.


The London Borough of Redbridge, which had originally rejected the scheme before switching to support, branded the ruling good news for residents who “are set to benefit from more affordable housing”. It suggested that a clause which states that “if viability were to improve, the affordable housing offer would improve proportionately” and could lead to more cheaper homes than the 4%.

But Khan said: “The government’s decision shows just how out of touch they are with the needs of Londoners. Ministers are merely paying lip service to tackling the housing crisis as evidenced in this outrageous decision. Both City Hall and the local council recognised the amount of affordable housing on offer was simply unacceptable – and government decisions like this are not in the best interests of the capital.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We’re pleased with the outcome of the appeal as our plans will support Ilford’s regeneration by driving growth, creating new jobs and providing a broad mix of housing for the community.”

The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government is yet to comment.


The words COACH and HORSES spring to mind when it comes the percentage of affordable homes required , by Law , in many new housing developments ???
Ground zero ... fallout from Grenfell Tower ... so much for the Government's concern for " Certain " citizens ?


https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/p ... 78166.html


Only 7 out of 160 social housing blocks made safe since Grenfell Tower fire.

Labour said the slow pace of progress in removing dangerous cladding was a 'dereliction of duty.'


Only seven of the 160 social housing blocks covered in dangerous cladding have been replaced since the Grenfell Tower disaster, while ministers admit they do not know how many private blocks have been made safe.

Campaigners hit out at an "astonishing" lack of progress on removing hazardous building materials since the blaze in the West London high-rise last June, which claimed the lives of more than 70 people and left hundreds of people without permanent homes.

Some 306 blocks have been identified with dangerous cladding, which the government's expert advisers believe would fail fire safety tests, according to monthly data from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Yet nine months on from the Grenfell fire, vital safety work has only been completed on seven - or 4 per cent - of the social housing blocks deemed unsafe, while no work has been carried out on 35 per cent (103) of the affected towers.


No estimate can be made of the progress in privately owned blocks, the government admitted in its monthly progress report.

It comes after dozens of MPs warned the government that plans to reform fire safety tests would "put lives at risk", by using less robust procedures to assess building materials.

Labour accused the Government of a "dereliction of duty" as it claimed it would take 15 years to replace the dangerous cladding at the current rate of progress, forcing tenants to live in unsafe homes.

Shadow housing secretary John Healey said: "It is shameful that only seven tower blocks with dangerous cladding have had it replaced, more than nine months after the Grenfell Tower fire.

“At the current rate of progress, it will take 15 years for the more than 300 blocks with dangerous cladding to have it removed and replaced. Ministers don’t even know how many privately-owned tower blocks have yet to complete this work.

"This is a dereliction of Government’s duty to act. It’s simply not good enough for ministers to pass the buck while residents live in unsafe homes.

"The Government must now act to help fund essential fire safety work in tower blocks with dangerous cladding.”

It comes amid a row between the government and local authorities about who should pay for safety improvements, as some cash-strapped councils claimed they had been denied financial assistance when they requested it.

However housing secretary Sajid Javid has insisted that no requests have been turned down, and the issue was his department's "number one priority".

Greg Beales, director of policy, research and communications at Shelter, said the work was still "mired in delays and confusion" and demanded greater clarity on who would pay for and carry out the improvements.

He said: “It’s astonishing there’s been such little progress and that we have still failed to replace cladding on so many homes, when it has failed safety tests and is considered unsafe.

“More than nine months has passed since the Grenfell fire and the government has a responsibility to step up and coordinate efforts to ensure these homes are safe. Instead, this vital safety work is mired in delays and confusion.

“The Secretary of State must urgently provide clarity on fire-safety and far stronger guidance on who should pay for and carry out these essential works.”


Lucy Grove, Grenfell programme lead at the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, said the safety work would take time to complete but interim measures were already in place to ensure the safety of tenants.

She said: “Whilst the data shows nearly 65 per cent of social housing buildings now have contractors on site, 11 more than last month, every housing association we’ve spoken to has started the remedial work in some way, such as working with teams of experts on designing a remedial solution or securing building control sign off for planned works.

“We do know that some housing associations are experiencing problems with accessing fire safety tests, lengthy waits on new materials and problems accessing qualified professionals such as expert cladders.

"To limit delays, Government should lead a national, co-ordinated response to ensure that resources and capacity are directed strategically and buildings most at risk are prioritised. The government should also remove VAT on cladding works.”

The aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding used on Grenfell Tower is thought to have helped the fire spread, so ministers arranged for testing to take place on buildings with similar materials after the disaster.

The latest data from March revealed 306 residential buildings has dangerous cladding in 65 local authority areas, including 158 social housing blocks, 134 private sector buildings and 14 public buildings, including hospitals and schools.

The report said: "The remediation of buildings with ACM cladding is a complex process, involving cladding systems and broader fire safety systems for buildings. As such, properly remediating buildings takes time.

"Of the 158 social housing buildings judged to have failed large-scale system tests, 65 per cent (103) have started remediation. Of these, seven buildings have finished remediation work.

"Data are still being collected on remediation of private sector buildings."

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I have every sympathy for any reader residing in one of these " Cities in the sky. "

Sure , what some replaced was an improvement in the short term ... one to five years.

Thereafter , it was quickly downhill in all aspects of life as many tv programs , both fact and fictional , have portrayed.

Now , add in a " Fear factor " ... " Is my block the next Grenfell Tower ? "
Ground zero ... Oulton . Leeds , West Yorkshire ... social cleansing on the pretext of inadequate housing ?


https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... n-eviction


" The spirit will be lost " ... residents fight eviction from their prefab homes.

People in the former mining village of Oulton fear the demolition of their historic " Airey houses " will lead to the loss of their community


The first that the residents of Wordsworth Drive and Sugar Hill Close knew of the possibility they could be turfed out of their homes was when flyers dropped through letter boxes last autumn.

The leaflets, lost among the doormat detritus of takeaway menus, invited them to a consultation " To give us your ideas on how the [redevelopment] scheme can help meet the needs of the local community ”.

At first, some of those living on this estate on the outskirts of Oulton, a village that has morphed into a suburb of Leeds, were excited about what they thought would be a much-needed project to renovate their homes, which are among the last examples of Airey houses left in Britain. Named after Sir Edwin Airey, a construction magnate, around 200 of the houses were built on the estate in the late 50s as homes for miners, and few thought they would see in the millennium.

Made from prefabricated concrete and scrap metal salvaged from military vehicles, they were designed to meet the housing needs of the growing numbers of workers living outside cities. Today, some 70 still survive on the estate, their pebble-dashed exteriors and brown wooden window frames offering a stark contrast to the smarter, modern brick houses with double glazing and uPVC doors that later appeared.

Barry and Mavis Abbey, both in their early 70s, have lived on the estate since 1970, when the homes were owned by the National Coal Board. They admit it has had its share of problems as the miners moved out and new tenants moved in. But they talk fondly of a community where people still look out for each other. “I wouldn’t want to move somewhere else,” Mavis said. “We have a support system here.”

At one stage the Abbeys had been led to believe they would be able to buy their home under the Thatcher government’s right-to-buy scheme. But this option was denied them for reasons that remain opaque. Ex-miners like Barry believe it was in revenge for them going on strike in the mid-1980s.

The estate was sold off by the NCB in 1986, after which the homes passed through a series of owners until they ended up in the hands of the Pemberstone Group, a private investment firm that boasts a diverse portfolio of interests including an Italian tour operator, an indoor ski slope and the Ilford camera-film brand.

Pemberstone’s “scheme” involves replacing the existing 70 Airey houses with 71 new properties, only 11 of which will be reserved for “affordable accommodation”, a number that it says is in line with Leeds city council’s Strategic Homes plan.

Locals have heard that the new homes will be priced at around £300,000 – 10 times what a three-bedroom Airey house on another estate fetched recently. Surrounded by attractive green spaces, close to motorways and 20 minutes from the city centre, they should sell easily.

The ex-miners, like Barry, and their widows have legal rights to be rehoused. But the prospect of moving at their age remains daunting. “When we got to know what was happening we couldn’t sleep,” Barry said.

The Abbeys are the lucky ones. The occupants of more than 50 of the homes – who do not have assured tenancies – have no such protection and can, if Pemberstone gains planning permission, be ordered to leave with just two months’ notice.


Pemberstone said it was talking to social housing organisations to see if they might take on the site, but it is unlikely that any could afford the expected price-tag. If no takers are found, Pemberstone intends to carry out the development in phases, building around six homes at a time over the next three to 15 years. “Given the natural turnover of properties and the long-term nature of the redevelopment, it is highly unlikely that any tenants would be asked to move from their home without being offered an equivalent alternative on the same estate,” the company said.

But whether the tenants could afford the new rents is questionable.

Cindy Readman, a teaching assistant who has lived on the estate for 13 years with her husband and three children, pays £500 a month for a three-bedroom house. “We couldn’t get anything like this size for the same amount of money,” she said. “There’s such a shortage of affordable housing around here. We’ve been told that once we were given notice, we would get the highest priority on the council waiting list. But even if you’re at the top, the waiting list is 70 weeks.”

Pemberstone argues that it has little choice but to demolish the homes because they fail to meet the required standards, in particular for energy efficiency. “As new standards come into force, there will come a point when these houses are considered uninhabitable,” the company said. “The fact is also that concrete houses like these are becoming less attractive to tenants and therefore harder to let. Currently 12 houses – around 20% of stock – are vacant.”

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But the company appears to have misjudged the mood of those on the estate, some of whom have firsthand experience of confronting authority. During the strike, when money to heat their homes was scarce, Barry recalled how he and his fellow miners went into their back gardens and dug the coal seam a metre below, a quirk that Pemberstone might need to consider if it starts building work.

When the Observer visited last Thursday, almost all the homes were sporting posters protesting against the scheme, and opposition is gathering momentum. A social media campaign has attracted the attention of both regional and national media.

When the residents presented their reasons for opposing the scheme to the city council, they received a standing ovation. “This is the biggest injustice I’ve seen in all my time in politics,” said Karen Bruce, a Labour councillor.

The fight has been joined by the Twentieth Century Society, which is backing a petition to save the homes due to their historical importance. And now, decades on from when their collieries closed, Yorkshire’s ex-miners are preparing to march again – a show of solidarity for the last vestiges of another era.

“It’s not just about houses, it’s about the community spirit that will be lost,” said Chris Kitchen, general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers. “These people still talk to each other and help each other out. A lot of communities now, you don’t get that.”


Enough in the above to make the front page of every daily newspaper ???

It typifies the struggle going on between big business and local communities which is now almost a one sided contest.

A stand has to be made ... Oulton has my vote !!!
The lack of affordable homes ... one consequence I hope no reader will face ?


https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/h ... 99951.html



More than 100,000 homeless households to be trapped in temporary accommodation by 2020, warns report.

Tens of thousands more families will be forced to live in B&Bs, hostels and other forms of temporary housing across England over next two years if current homelessness trends continue.


Tens of thousands more families will be trapped in temporary accommodation across England over the next two years if current homelessness trends continue, a report has warned.

More than 100,000 households will be living in B&Bs, hostels and other forms of temporary housing by 2020, as rising housing costs and insecure work continue to “lock” people into poverty, according to research commissioned by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

The annual Homelessness Monitor shows that 70 per cent of local authorities in England are struggling to find any stable housing for homeless people in their area, while a striking 89 per cent reported difficulties in finding private rented accommodation.

As a result, many councils have found themselves forced to place ever more homeless people in emergency housing, including B&Bs and hostels, leading to urgent calls for more permanent and genuinely affordable homes to be built.

Government figures published last month revealed almost 79,000 families were staying in temporary housing in the last three months of last year because they didn’t have a permanent home, compared with 48,010 in the same period eight years before.

There had been a significant reduction in families living in such conditions before the coalition government came into power, with the number having fallen by 52 per cent between 2004 and 2010 under the Labour government.

But the figure has crept up in each of the past seven years, from 69,140 in the last quarter of 2015, to 75,740 in the same period in 2016 and 78,930 at the end of last year.

The new report warns that if current trends continue, with housing supply “dwindling” and rents outstripping wages and benefits, more than 100,000 such households will fall into this trap by 2020.

Councils surveyed reported a growing reluctance among landlords to rent to people on welfare. One local authority in the Midlands told researchers it was “pretty much impossible” to access the private rental sector, with the cost of doing so “prohibitive” and the solution “unsustainable”.

A council in southern England, commenting on how reforms to social care services are contributing to homelessness, meanwhile said: “There are more people than ever with complex and multiple needs than ever before. Mental health services are overstretched and unable to cope.”

The findings come the day after it emerged the number of homeless people dying has more than doubled over the past five years, with deaths occurring both on the streets and in crowded hostels.

Crisis and JRF said more must be done to solve the problem – in particular that the government must build more social housing and ensure that homeless people can access it.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of the charity, said it was “truly terrible” that councils across England were finding it increasingly difficult to find homeless people somewhere to live, saying: “Today’s report makes it clear that, unless we take action as a society, this problem will only keep getting worse.

“Homelessness is not inevitable and our research has shown how it can become a thing of the past.”

The charity welcomed the government’s recent actions on homelessness, including its pledge to end rough sleeping by 2027 and the establishment of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Implementation Taskforce.

But they said more must be done urgently, highlighting that the upcoming green paper on social housing must be an opportunity to make a commitment to building genuinely affordable homes.

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, the report’s lead author, said: “This year’s Homelessness Monitor has, again, provided evidence of the profound, cumulative and adverse impact of welfare reform on access to housing for low-income groups, especially in high-value markets.

“The options are narrowing for local authorities charged with preventing and resolving homelessness, as benefit-reliant households are entirely priced out of the private rented sector in some parts of the country.

“At the same time, homeless people’s access to a diminishing pool of social tenancies is increasingly constrained by landlord nervousness about letting to households whose incomes are now so very low that even properties let at social rents can be unaffordable to them.”

Ms Fitzpatrick said the most “fundamental and pernicious” impacts for the poorest households were linked to the caps and freezing of local housing allowance and other working age benefits.

Homeless charity Shelter said the findings demonstrated the “bruising toll” that living in unstable temporary accommodation, especially B&Bs and hostels, takes on people’s lives.

Polly Neate, chief executive of the charity, said: “We see children routinely fall behind at school and their health and happiness left in tatters, while their parents suffer with the heartbreaking belief they’ve failed their children. Really it should be governments shouldering this blame.

“If the current government wants to prevent these families from carrying the scars of homelessness for the rest of their lives, it must act now to build the social homes needed to end this crisis for good.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live, and we are providing more than £1.2bn to ensure homeless people get the support they need.

“To ensure they can access permanent accommodation, we are also investing £2bn in social rent housing and allowing councils to borrow more to build homes.

“In addition, the Homelessness Reduction Act came into force last week, requiring councils to help those at risk of being homeless sooner.”


A Report on one front from the Social War raging through this country.

No body count beyond lives being routinely shattered as a sacrifice to the current God ... a God called Austerity.

In short , how to make those towards the bottom pay to maintain wealth and power for the few.
Reports have cropped up in many newspapers today of Cabinet Ministers with BTL portfolios.

I will not publish any of these articles nor links to the newspapers.

On figures already known ... 40% / 2 in 5 / 252 mps ... are said to have BTL interests.

Why single out just one party ???

Suffice to say , any Motion to introduce rent controls will be met with opposition for ALL sides of the House ... some will be case of crocodile tears ?

The words PIGS and TROUGHS spring to mind !
A new buzz phrase ... " The Grenfell Effect " ... in old money " Blighted property " ... read on :


https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... e-cladding


Value of London flats slashed by Grenfell-style cladding.

Home in New Capital Quay, Greenwich, worth £50,000 rather than £475,000, owner told.


A homeowner in a housing complex in London with Grenfell-type cladding has been told the value of her £475,000 home has collapsed and is now just £50,000.

Galliard Homes, the developer of the 11-block complex in New Capital Quay in south-east London, is facing a £30m-£40m bill to replace the cladding and is locked in a legal dispute over who should pay.

The dispute, which could take years to resolve, has left Cecile Langevin, 32, and potentially thousands of others up and down the country, with an unsellable flat.

“It is like someone has taken away our life choices, our freedom,” she said. “And nobody is doing anything about it,” she added, in tears.

Langevin has a two-year-old son and was due to give birth to her second child on Saturday. She had put their flat on the market in the hope of moving out of London to a bigger home.

She got a Rics-approved surveyor to value her flat recently and was shocked when he came back with a £50,000 price tag. But now she realises the whole complex is blighted.

“All ongoing sales in the development have fallen through. Banks are not lending to potential buyers and provide valuations of zero for flats in our development,” she said.

Langevin is one of about 2,000 residents in NCQ in Greenwich, believed to be the largest private development found to have flammable cladding after the west London disaster that cost 71 lives.

“I don’t sleep at night. I wake up most nights for a few hours and I write emails to people I think that can help,” said Langevin.

“I can’t move very fast. What would happen if my husband was away one night? We are on the seventh floor. What if if I was there with my son and new baby and all the people were at the stairs and I couldn’t get out?” she asked.

While cladding remains on such buildings, the fire brigade requires 24/7 fire patrol in case evacuation is needed, but in three cases so far in private blocks, including one in Croydon and another in Salford, this has meant leaseholders will face bills potentially of tens of thousands of pounds.

“It is quite shocking that the residents are living in potential death traps while everybody else tries to deny liability for the cost of making them safe. There is the potential for the residents to bring group legal proceedings to recover the cost of fixing the buildings and for the considerable distress they must be suffering,” said Chris Haan, a lawyer at the London law firm Leigh Day.

He has been approached by a number of home owners in NCQ and said they may have a case against the developers for breach of contract when they sold homes “fit for habitation when completed”.


Langevin funded the flat in 2014 through some savings, a mortgage with a high-street bank and a £95,000 government loan under the Help to Buy scheme designed to help people without enough savings to get on the property ladder.

She said she could repay that loan without selling, under the government’s rules. But she believes she has to repay only 20% of the market value, which at £50,000 means she would owe £10,000 and the government would lose £85,000 of its loan to her.

Langevin believes that many other homes in the NCQ development were purchased on the Help to Buy scheme, which was heavily promoted by Galliard at the development’s launch.

She has had no answer from Target HCA, which is administering the scheme, other than to say it is a “novel” request.

“They are being evasive, because they know if they have to do this for me they have to do it for everyone who asks,” she said.

Regardless of how much of the government loan she has to repay, Langevin is still subject to huge negative equity because the value of the flat has plummeted.

She said she is at her wits’ end and suffering from stress over her situation. She said she can’t move out and rent to others because she would feel terrible “if they were caught in a fire”. It is also not permissible under her Help to Buy contract.

She contacted the housing minister, Dominic Raab, but he did not reply. “I don’t think he cares about ordinary people,” she said.

It is likely that thousands of private homeowners are in Langevin’s situation, with government data showing 301 blocks over 18 metres tall have Grenfell-type cladding, of which 130 are in the private sector and 13 are hospitals or schools. Of the public buildings, only seven have had their cladding replaced so far.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We have made clear that we want to see private sector landlords follow the lead of the social sector and not pass on the costs of essential cladding replacement to leaseholders.

“We are keeping the situation under review and ministers are meeting industry representatives shortly to discuss this.”

Campaigners said the cladding was causing financial ruin for homeowners.

“The blight caused by Grenfell is national and the government doesn’t seem to be too bothered about that. So far, what we have heard from Greenwich and Croydon is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Martin Boyd, a trustee at the charity Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, a service that advises leaseholders on their rights over cladding and other issues.

Galliard Homes declined to comment.



The legal fraternity must be rubbing their hands with glee !!!

Hundreds of thousands of crisp notes of the realm for years to come , if not decades ... some even in the colour of certain offshore habitats ???

As for the home owners / tenants of these " Cities in the sky " , what can they do ???

A ticking time bomb ever since the first monstrosity was erected in the 1960s ... and now it has exploded !!!

This Issue will run ... and run.
More on the fallout from Grenfell ... repair / replacement bills ... yet again :


https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... e-cladding


Leaseholders of flats face £40,000 bills over Grenfell type cladding.

Battersea residents told upgrade, including combustible panel replacement, will not be met by Astor management firm.


Residents of 80 flats whose freeholds are managed by a company owned by David Cameron’s half brother-in-law are each facing bills of up to £40,000 because the building is clad with flammable panels similar to those used on Grenfell Tower, in London.

Leaseholders of the Sesame apartments in Battersea, south London, fear they are trapped in unsellable homes and William Astor’s company claims it is not responsible for the costs.

A spokesman said the firm’s duty was to the unnamed pension fund which owned the freehold and on whose behalf the firm managed the building.

Astor’s company is about to send the leaseholders £8,000 bills to cover a new fire alarm and the cost of a 24-hour watch in the building, following the fire on 14 June 2017 at Grenfell Tower, North Kensington, which claimed 71 lives.

Leaseholders fear a further £2.2m bill for replacing the combustible panels that failed fire tests last year could also fall to them. Astor’s company has said it hoped insurers and warranty providers would pay the bill.

Across England 306 residential buildings, with a height of more than 18 storeys, have been identified as having cladding that has failed fire tests.

In common with many other blocks the cladding at the Sesame apartments is still in place but the “stay-put policy” for residents in the event of a fire there has been abandoned in favour of evacuation.

According to the planning documents the cladding specified on the building was made by Alucobond, a Germany-based company, which said that it withdrew aluminium composite cladding panels with a combustible polyethylene core in 2014.

The same brand of cladding was used at a complex including 1,000 flats at New Capital Quay, Greenwich, where one residentwas told by a surveyor that her £475,000 flat had been slashed in value to £50,000.

The Greenwich case was debated in parliament on Thursday. The Labour MP for Battersea, Marsha de Cordova, said: “Leaseholders are still being left in limbo about whether they will be footing the bill. But it is not leaseholders who have failed to upgrade buildings or cut corners with safety regulations. The burden should not fall on them. The government says it would be morally wrong for leaseholders to be held liable for the costs, but these must not be empty words. It has the power and it has the duty to intervene.”

Several of the residents own only a fraction of their flats under a shared ownership scheme, but have told de Cordova that they have been informed they will be liable for 100% of the remedial costs.

One said: “I am facing being trapped in an unsaleable property for which I’ll likely have to pay service charges that I cannot afford. I thought I was doing everything right when I saved up in my 20s to buy a home, and now my future looks dire.”

Astor, whose full title is The Hon William Waldorf Astor IV, is the owner of two companies which manage the block as part of his freehold property business, which includes freeholds of 150,000 properties, his spokesman said. He is a scion of the wealthy Astor family and half-brother of Samantha Cameron, the wife of the former prime minister.



Ever since the Lutine Bell was first sounded in Lloyds of London ... following a loss of a ship at sea ... to the latest disaster at Grenfell Tower , one sector has always " Welcomed " such events ... the legal profession ... profitable business for years , if not decades , ahead !

Seems to be pretty clear cut ?

Faulty cladding fitted ... the buck stops right there !

Too simple ?

That's why I wasn't a lawyer in a previous life !
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