Cladding crisis: Romford buyers denied access to fire safety test results

Reece Lipman and Justice 4 Grenfell campaigner Yvette Williams

Reece Lipman (pictured with Yvette Williams from Justice 4 Grenfell) organised a protest in London last week, after the cladding crisis rendered his flat in Chapel Court (right) unsellable. - Credit: Jemma Gallagher / Google Streetview

Occupants of flammable flats in Romford have been banned from knowing the extent or cost of repair works – even though they could end up footing the bill.

In April, forensic tests were done at Chapel Court, opposite Queen’s Hospital, after an initial inspection found cladding which posed “a significant risk of external fire spread”.

But owner Swan Housing Association will not give leaseholders the test results.

They include first-time-buyer Reece Lipman, who planned to sell his share in a one-bedroom flat and start a family with his partner. Now he can't, as the cladding has rendered his flat unsellable.

Swan received the forensic report in September but said it was "unable to share technical reports until such time as we have concluded legal action with third parties”.

Oldchurch Park, which includes Chapel Court, was built by Swan's construction firm, Swan Nu Living.

But Swan said it had used “a range of consultants and contractors” and that "in the interests of minimising costs to Swan and, in turn, to residents, we will consider all possible legal options".

Reece said: “A legal battle could last for ages, while we still have no idea what’s fundamentally wrong with our building. It’s absolutely crazy.”

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He organised a rally outside City Hall on Saturday, October 30, attended by roughly 60 leaseholders in similar situations, after chancellor Rishi Sunak failed to announce any extra help in his budget.

A previously announced £5bn government fund only covers buildings of 18 metres or higher.

Owners in shorter buildings like Chapel Court are instead expected to take out loans, which could send them into negative equity.

Part-owners like Reece, who owns just 25 per cent of his flat, have to pay 100 per cent of their home’s repair bill.

Cladding crisis protest outside City Hall in London

Leaseholders gathered outside City Hall in central London on Saturday, October 30, for a cladding crisis protest organised by Romford buyer Reece Lipman. - Credit: Reece Lipman

“We didn’t build the buildings and we don’t own them,” he said, describing leaseholders as innocent parties paying for “failures of industry, failures of regulation and failures of government oversight."

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “It is unacceptable and unfair that leaseholders are facing excessive bills. Building owners and industry must make buildings safe without passing on costs to leaseholders.”

For more, read:

Doctor lives in 'squalid' hotels after flammable flat blocked move

Cladding crisis lumbers Havering Council leader with unsellable flat

Cladding Scandal: Homeowners 'stuck' as service charges rise

Tenants of ACM-clad blocks fear being trapped by faulty doors in fire

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