Victims of combustible cladding scandal are shocked to receive bills

Victims of combustible cladding scandal are shocked to receive bills for £100,000 to cover £15m repair costsand they’re overdue

  • Residents of Stevenage flats were shocked by letters seeking overdue payments
  • The payments are to cover £14.8million repair costs, required after Grenfell Fire
  • Sophie Bichener, 29, was told in letter she would be expected to pay £208,000
  • The marketing manager bad bought the flat for £230,000 in 2017
  • Victims of the cladding scandal fear imminent bankruptcy after receiving letters stating repair bills of more than £100,000 were overdue.

    Residents of Vista Tower in Stevenage were shocked when letters dropped on their door mats this week stating huge payments had been due on July 1.

    An accompanying note from the managing agent of the 14-storey building reassured them that the money was not expected until the outcome of their application to the Government’s cladding fund was known.

    Sophie Bichener, 29, (pictured outside her flat in Vista, Tower Stevenage) received her bill on Thursday, which stated that of the total £14.8million repair costs, she would be expected to pay £208,000 through her annual service charge - half of which was due on July 1

    Sophie Bichener, 29, (pictured outside her flat in Vista, Tower Stevenage) received her bill on Thursday, which stated that of the total £14.8million repair costs, she would be expected to pay £208,000 through her annual service chargehalf of which was due on July 1

    But campaigners warned it signalled the start of a new phase for the cladding crisis and the realisation of leaseholders’ worst fears. 先前, most repair costs had been estimates and residents had yet to see charges under their names.

    Sophie Bichener, 29, who owns one of the 73 flats in Vista Tower, received her bill on Thursday, which stated that of the total £14.8million repair costs, she would be expected to pay £208,000 through her annual service charge – half of which had been due on July 1.

    Miss Bichener, a marketing manager who bought her two-bedroom flat for £230,000 in 2017, blamed ministers for leaving leaseholders in the lurch.

    她说: ‘I scanned over the letter and just thought, “Oh my God”. We knew that this wave of bills was coming. But to have that in your name as your debt, regardless of whether the Government is going to come back in four, five or six months and say “OK, here’s a bit of it back”, is deeply unnerving. It feels like everything is moving on.’

    Vista Tower is above 18 metres tall and has combustible cladding and missing fire breaks.

    The Government’s £5.1billion fund is limited to buildings of this height with dangerous cladding, and it has confirmed that Vista is eligible.

    Giles Grover, pictured outside his apartment in Manchester, where he faces a bill of £18,000 to repair serious fire defects in his building. Developer Persimmon is refusing to cover any of the costs

    Giles Grover, pictured outside his apartment in Manchester, where he faces a bill of £18,000 to repair serious fire defects in his building. Developer Persimmon is refusing to cover any of the costs

    But leaseholders don’t know if all the works will be covered and Miss Bichener believes it could be as little as 50 per cent – still leaving her with a £100,000 bill.

    Local Tory MP Stephen McPartland said her plight was ‘just the tip of the iceberg’. 他加了: ‘Ministers continue to use weasel words offering all possible assistance short of any actual help. It is a sham and they should be ashamed.’

    Giles Grover, of the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign, 说过: ‘We are now seeing an exponential increase in the number of impossible bills landing on doorsteps, with freeholders and managing agents blaming the Government for leaving them with no choice but to force these costs onto leaseholders.

    Local Tory MP Stephen McPartland, who called Sophie Bichener's plight ¿just the tip of the iceberg¿

    Local Tory MP Stephen McPartland, who called Sophie Bichener’s plight ‘just the tip of the iceberg’

    ‘Boris Johnson is running out of time to take control and ensure the promises both he and his Government have made over the years are kept.’

    A spokesman for Grey GR, the freeholder of Vista Tower, confirmed that the cost of repairs ‘will need to be met through the service charge, unless another third party can be found to have legal liability, or the Government provides sufficient grant funding’.

    Ministers tripled the funding available to leaseholders stuck in buildings with unsafe cladding after the Daily Mail launched a campaign to end the scandal in January.

    But the £5.1billion fund covers only a third of total estimated costs, while there is no support for unsafe buildings below 18 metres or with fire safety defects other than cladding.

    政府发言人说: ‘Building owners should make buildings safe without passing on costs to leaseholders – and we will introduce a new legal requirement for owners of high-rise buildings to prove they have tried all routes to cover the cost of fixing their buildings.

    ‘We are processing applications to the Building Safety Fund as quickly as possible.’

    cladding@dailymail.co.uk