‘Act with some decency’: Ilford South MP urges Raphael House freeholder to update worried residents
PUBLISHED: 12:02 08 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:02 08 October 2020
The MP for Ilford South has spoken out on the ongoing cladding issues at Raphael House.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday (October 5), Sam Tarry questioned Conservative MP Christopher Pincher on the Building Safety Fund, designed to fund the repair of buildings with cladding problems.
Mr Tarry said: “According to leading civil servants the Building Safety Fund will only be enough to cover less than a third of the buildings that require external remediation.
“This doesn’t even cover the interim safety measures and costs which many scrupulous freeholders have been pushing onto leaseholders, such as in my seat in Ilford South at Raphael House.”
Raphael House, on the High Road, is one building where the need for remediation works has been identified.
While residents wait for the permanent remediation works to take place, a number of interim measures — including fire marshals that provide a waking watch — have been put in place to ensure their safety.
With no provision in the current legislation to cover such measures, Mr Tarry asked the government to consider increasing the fund to absorb those costs.
Resident Samantha Ingham told the Recorder that having the fire marshals in place costs £13,000 a week, with the cost divided between the 154 flats in the complex.
She advised that her service charge for this year has more than doubled this year as a result, with costs set to continue until the permanent remediation works are completed.
The situation has cast a cloud over Samantha, who also speaks on behalf of the Raphael House Leaseholder group: “This is my home — it’s a disaster for me. I was completely over the moon to buy my own place, but these costs are crippling. Not only are the homes a potential death trap, they’re also going to bankrupt us.”
In answering Mr Tarry, housing minister Mr Pincher did not specifically address the interim measures point, but spoke on the funding as a whole: “The objective of the one billion pound fund is to target those properties that most need help and where there is no other immediate means of helping them. £1 billion is not a small amount of money.”
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One of the caveats of the funding is that freeholders can only apply if they pledge to begin the work by April 2021.
In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Tarry also asked the government to extend this deadline so that “freeholders can act responsibly, and in the best interests of leaseholders and tenants”.
Speaking after his Commons’ appearance, Mr Tarry said: “I cannot express how important it is that the freeholder Estates & Management Ltd expedites its application for the Building Safety Fund and commences remediation works.
“Leaseholders and tenants have had to foot a bill of almost £1 million for interim safety measures and are unable to have their properties valued.
“Having to foot such additional costs during the national Covid-19 crisis has had an unimaginable impact on the mental health and wellbeing of these residents.
“I implore the freeholder to act with some decency and update the residents on the progress of its application for the Building Safety Fund for remediation works.”
When contacted, E&M Ltd confirmed the following:
• Estates & Management (E&M) acts on behalf of the landlord, Brigante Properties Limited in administering its freehold interest at Raphael House
• The appointed property manager, Ian Gibbs Estate Management Ltd submitted an application to the Building Safety Fund for the remediation of non-ACM buildings in June, of which residents have been updated
• E&M has direct experience in dealing with the ACM Fund and an existing relationship with both the ministry of housing and local government and their delivery partner for remediation, the Greater London Authority (GLA)
A spokesperson for landlord Brigante Properties said: “We are committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of residents and helping strengthen the security of the building at pace. With that in mind, we have applied with the government’s Building Safety Fund, which we are closely monitoring and keeping all relevant parties updated.
“We sympathise with the predicament in which many residents find themselves, through no fault of their own, and have shared our concerns with the government requesting that the relevant fund be extended to cover additional costs.
“Fire alarm works are progressing as priority with a view to being complete by the end of October. In the meantime, a waking watch remains in situ which is in line with the recommendation of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).”
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