Protest as apartment owners hit by coating scandal face financial ruin without help
Hundreds of protesters have gathered in Parliament Square as tenants face exorbitant costs to repair buildings they don’t own and warn many will be left bankrupt
Apartment owners today urged the government to protect them from huge bills to fix dangerous homes that could leave them in “financial ruin”.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in Parliament Square to rally tenants together to demand reform of the Safe Buildings Bill.
They chanted âenough is enoughâ as signs read âYou built it, you fix itâ, âEndless worry and stressâ and âI can’t pay, I won’t payâ.
The crowd fell silent for 72 seconds in honor of the 72 lives lost in the Grenfell Tower fire on June 14, 2017.
An estimated 850,000 people live in homes with dangerous siding and fire safety defects, according to campaign group End Our Cladding Scandal.
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They estimate that up to 3.6 million people could wait a decade or more to sell their homes because they have to prove the walls are safe – and can’t.
Tenants face exorbitant costs to repair buildings they don’t own and warn many will be left bankrupt.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan told the rally 1,000 buildings in the capital remained unsafe. He said: âI have met tenants whose dream of owning an apartment has come true and turned into a nightmare.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “We will vote and vote again against anything that does not solve the problem.”
Will Martin, of End Our Cladding Scandal, said: “We need the government to finally keep the promises made to protect us from paying to fix the security flaws we did not cause.”
The Housing Ministry said: âThese figures are speculative. We are spending over Â£ 5 billion to make buildings safer. “
Bankruptcy is my only option
Julie Fraser, a tenant in Runcorn, Cheshire, bought her flat five years ago to invest Â£ 75,000.
The 58-year-old grandmother said, âI used a large amount of money that would have been for my retirement to buy it.
âI have rheumatoid arthritis and can’t work anymore, so I needed something to invest in to have an income. ”
But at the end of 2019, she found out her building had a dangerous coating and would not get funding because it was less than 18 meters.
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âWe are potentially looking at an invoice of between Â£ 30,000 and Â£ 40,000 each, but we have yet to receive a figure.
âI don’t know what I’m going to do – no lender will lend money, so we can’t borrow.
“Am I drawing on what I have left of my pension?” Why should he get out of my pension fund?
“There is nothing fair about it.”
Sophie Bichener, 29, bought her first flat in Stevenage, Hertfordshire in 2017 for around Â£ 230,000.
But after it emerged that the siding did not comply with building regulations and her block had missing firestops, she received a bill for Â£ 208,000 last month.
She still has to know how much financial assistance – if any – she will get.
âThe fact that I may have to pay this and with interest is appalling,â Sophie told the Mirror. “I got engaged two years ago but I don’t know if I should marry my fiance because will the financial crisis in which I am going to damage him? If I go bankrupt, will he go bankrupt?
The marketing manager added, âIf I have to pay it off, it will be a lifetime loan. My life will be ruined.
Will Broome, 49, bought his one-bedroom apartment in Fulham, south-west London, in 2007 as a condominium for around Â£ 300,000.
But his building has ACM siding and missing firewalls and he said whenever there was a fire alarm there was concern.
The artist said his block was billed for Â£ 1.9million in total, although it is not known what their individual bills are – and “there is some confusion as to whether we will get funding.”
âI don’t have that money, I don’t think I would have any choice but to go bankrupt. No one can blame the tenants. It is a failure of the government, the rules and regulations and the developers, but not us. I did as I was told and tried to climb the property ladder.