A victim of a siding has revealed that he faces possible bankruptcy within the next 18 months, even if the government pays the repair bill.
Charlotte Meehan, 33, said landlords on her block in east London were being “bled dry” by the high cost of temporary fire safety measures that were put in place while they waited for remediation work to begin.
Those stopgap measures had so far racked up nearly £500,000 in bills to residents for a policing of the Bow development, he said.
They are being charged on top of the standard service charge and you are also worried that you may come up with a huge bill for other fire defects that are not covered by any government aid.
Charlotte Meehan, 33, (pictured) said flat owners in her block in east London were being “bled dry” by the high cost of temporary fire safety measures.
Ms. Meehan warned that she, and many others like her, including her husband, with whom she bought the apartment, face bankruptcy in the coming months, despite welcoming the housing secretary’s announcement this week.
Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Grading, Housing and Communities, said renters were ‘trapped’ and it was time to protect them and make ‘industry pay’.
He announced that tenants living in blocks less than 18m, including Mrs. Meehan’s 15m block, will not have to pay siding repair bills. Only those who lived in buildings taller than 18 meters previously had access to the Fire Safety Fund.
He said, “We will scrap long-term debt and loan proposals for mid-rise tenants and ensure that no tenant living in their own apartment will pay a dime to repair hazardous siding.”
That’s good news for affected tenants who faced financially crippling bills for remediation work, often running into the hundreds of thousands of pounds.
However, the current reality for many of these apartment owners is that they still face massive bills to cover stopgap fire measures like warning clocks.
Gove’s announcement this week was welcomed by Meehan and her husband, but she said high service charges were already starting to take their toll.
Her service charges cover the cost of a watch watch, which she says has already cost her the development of 96 units in east London nearly £500,000 over the last 18 months.
The couple bought the one-bedroom apartment in 2016 for £362,000 and have seen costs already run into the thousands of pounds, and that’s even before the cost of remediation works.
Other developments affected by the siding crisis are also seeing their insurance costs skyrocket.
A surveillance bill for the building’s residents of £293,500 a year, including VAT, has generated charges of around £490,000 in the last 20 months.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline Property, Ms Meehan said: “I’m cautiously optimistic about Gove’s announcement as it at least gets us into the conversation, I don’t know yet if it goes far enough to force developers to pay.” .
“We want the full remediation costs, as well as the historical, present and future costs of security measures put in place while we wait for them to be remediated.
“Our argument has always been that we are a building connected to a block of more than 18 meters.
“Rehabilitating the section of the building that is above 18 meters and leaving the rest below 18 meters means that the spread of the fire is still significant.”
But he added: ‘There are some key elements missing from Gove’s announcement, including other fire safety flaws outside of the cladding that are not included. Two-thirds of our bill would be for fire defect repairs outside of the siding. It is a concern that tenants still have to pay for them.’
‘Another is that they are bleeding us dry. I have not seen any cleaners in our common areas for months. You can imagine what it looks like. He’s ten years old anyway and covered in graffiti. It is in a terrible state of disrepair.
‘What happens to people like us who don’t have the money to do normal repairs as everything has run out?
Since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, cladding concerns have become a national issue
She suggested the development’s £500,000 vigil watch bill has left its reserve funds ‘decimated’.
She went on to explain: ‘These interim costs are exorbitant and are now bankrupting people. Gove is not looking at them and that is my big concern.
‘Our service charges doubled last year and yet our salaries haven’t, so we can’t afford to pay them. We will have nothing left.
These interim costs are exorbitant and are now bankrupting people. Gove is not looking at those and that is my big concern.
‘Not only do we have an increase in service charges to cover the cost of these additional fire safety measures while we wait to see if they are going to be remediated, service charges are also increasing as reserve funds have been used and there is nothing to pay for normal daily maintenance work.
‘The Government must analyze all the aspects that have affected tenants as a result of the fire safety building crisis.
‘We have some savings, but it’s just a little bit of money to cover something like our boiler breaking down or to help us start a family.
“We wouldn’t be able to pay if we got an unexpected £10,000 service charge bill, and I don’t know how they expect us to get all this money.”
The cost of your remediation work is on top of any current utility bills. Gove’s latest funding announcement is unlikely to cover any fire safety measures outside of cladding systems, such as combustible insulation or missing cavity barriers.
The watch clock on his estate has so far cost £244,608 a year plus VAT, a total of £293,500, and has been in operation for 20 months.
Ms Meehan said: ‘People are already out of pocket and even bankrupt just because of the stopgap measures.
‘Interim security measures are bankrupting people, not just remediation costs. You are meant to feel safe in your home, but we cannot relieve ourselves of this financial burden. They have forced us to be here for reasons beyond our control and it is torture.