United Kingdom

Fire-risk flats where repairs will cost each resident up to £156k

More than 100 leaseholders stuck in flats built after the Grenfell disaster face bills of up to £156,000 each to fix fire safety defects.

The repair bills at The Milliners in Bristol are believed to be the biggest individual costs to affected leaseholders anywhere in Britain so far.

Solicitor Steph Pike, 29, paid £193,000 for her one-bedroom flat in the 109-apartment development, completed months after the fire at the west London tower block in 2017 claimed 72 lives.

With the devastating inferno fresh in the memory, she and other buyers sought and got assurances that their homes were safe.

But last October tests revealed the block had the same type of cladding used at Grenfell, which an inquiry has blamed for accelerating the spread of the blaze.

Solicitor Steph Pike (pictured), 29, paid £193,000 for her one-bedroom flat in the 109-apartment development, completed months after the fire at the west London tower block in 2017 claimed 72 lives

The tests also found The Milliners had the same combustible insulation as Grenfell – plus missing cavity barriers and flammable timber balconies.

The total repair bill on the £7.9million building, converted to flats from unused offices, is estimated to be £7.5million.

Leaseholders are liable to pay from £70,000 to £156,000 each depending on the size of their flat. Miss Pike says she will go bankrupt and lose her job if she has to pay the full cost.

The revelations led experts to warn that the building industry ‘carried on as normal’ in the year after Grenfell and many new flats could be unsafe.

Clive Betts MP and chairman of the Commons housing committee, said it was ‘absolutely outrageous’ that potentially unsafe flats were still being built after the fire. Just 242 out of a possible 11,760 unsafe buildings have been fixed since Grenfell.

The Daily Mail is campaigning to end the scandal by June 2022 and spare leaseholders the crippling financial burdens.

With the devastating inferno fresh in the memory, she and other buyers sought and got assurances that their homes were safe. Pictured: Steph Pike 

The Government has since trebled its fund to replace unsafe cladding to £5billion, but it excludes those living in blocks below 18 metres (60ft) in height, who instead face bills of up to £600 a year for repairs.

And there is nothing for those who face average costs of £25,600 each to fix non- cladding defects, such as timber balconies.

The Milliners is 19 metres tall. The freeholder, Grey GR, applied for Government funding in December but it is unclear how much it will receive and whether the non-cladding defects, which are often more expensive, will be covered.

A 24-hour fire patrol has been in place since November, costing £165 a month per leaseholder. On Monday the Government defeated an amendment to its Fire Safety Bill that would have stopped building owners passing on costs to leaseholders, despite a revolt by 33 Tory MPs.

First-time buyer Miss Pike said ministers must step in. She added: ‘They’ve said numerous times that leaseholders should not have to pay, yet they keep voting against the amendment which says exactly that. It makes me think, “Do you want us to pay then?” ’

The Milliners’ contractor, headoffice3, said: ‘We are co-operating in full with Grey GR... and have provided them with the proof of compliance. We should add that the building was signed off by an accredited fire consultant at the time. We have not been notified of any “defects”... we do not know anything about remediation costs of £7.5million.’

Grey GR said the safety of residents was its ‘principal concern’ and that it had not been responsible for the ‘construction or choice of materials for the building that has led to this incredibly worrying situation’.

It said it is ‘seeking recovery from those who may be responsible’ and had applied to the Government fund. But it confirmed the fund would not ‘cover all of the costs’, meaning ‘there is a risk that leaseholders may eventually be asked to pay any shortfall’ via their service charge.

A Government spokesman said the Milliners fund application ‘will be considered in due course’. 

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