Prowse Court

LEASEHOLDERS IN Prowse Court, Edmonton in London are ‘unable to sell due to [the] fire risk’ of timber cladding on balconies, which could result in fire spread.

Enfield Independent reported on the building, part of the regeneration scheme to replace Highmead Estate, at which leaseholders ‘have been told they will be unable to sell their homes due to a fire risk’ only five years after the block was built. Each flat has timber cladding on the balconies, which ‘could catch fire and cause it to spread throughout the building’, and as the cladding needs to be replaced, leaseholders could face bills for work of up to £4,000 or higher.

Until this work is carried out, residents will be unable to sell ‘because mortgage providers will not lend against the properties’, with the balcony cladding issue discovered by a fire engineer paid for by residents. Their investigation established that the timber decking and cladding ‘imposes the risk of fire spreading up the exterior of the building’, and thus scores the building the lowest rating on an external wall fire review (EWS1) form.

Basim Jafar, head of a residents’ group at Prowse Court, stated: ‘Innocent people are going to be on the hook for very large sums of money – when they had nothing to do with the design specification of this building. We are here 24/7 – stuck in homes that we bought in good faith. We are worried when are the fire brigade going to turn up, when is the next fire going to happen?

‘We are worried and disappointed. Some people will be angry, and most of us are not going to have the savings. Me and my wife are desperate to move, but I don’t know if we can.’

He added that estate agents had told owners they had ‘no chance’ of selling, because most mortgage firms will not lend on buildings with a B2 rating ‘except in some cases where there is a remediation plan and a timeline in place’. He called on the government, the original developer and the warranty provider to ‘step in and offer financial support’, as while the residents’ group has reserve funds, these would be ‘nowhere near enough’ to cover the full costs.

The building’s landlord is Adriatic Land 5, and the original developer was Countryside Properties, while its management company, Homeground Management, stated that the issues are down to ‘a serial failure of building and construction regulation over many years’, and believes that the government needs to ‘resolve the challenges’.

The spokesperson added: ‘Where warranty claims are unsuccessful, there is a responsibility on the part of the developer, and any other parties involved in the design and construction of the facade, to contribute towards a solution and work with the residents, freeholder, and any resident management company to address any concerns with the building. In our experience, large developers have rightly come forward in a number of cases to take responsibility.’

A spokesperson for Countryside Properties added: ‘The design of the building and its materials, including the balconies and terraces, complied with building regulations at the time. While we cannot undertake work in response to changes in legislation after the property was built, we will, of course, assist residents where we can.’

Additionally, a spokesperson for warranty provider NHBC commented: ‘NHBC is currently investigating a claim relating to this property and no decision has yet been made. We will continue to liaise directly with the claimant and keep him updated.’

From the local Enfield Council, a spokesperson responded that the council believes central government ‘has a responsibility to fully fund cladding remediation nationally to ensure leaseholders are financially protected’, adding that the council is working with both Countryside and Homeground to ‘find a safe, effective and fair solution to this issue’.

Finally, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: ‘Our priority is to make homes safer, quickly – that’s why we’re providing £1.6 billion to speed up the removal of unsafe cladding. We are currently processing registrations to the building safety fund and working with building owners to get information to assess their eligibility for the scheme.

‘However, the government should not be the only means of funding remediation work – we expect building owners to ensure their buildings are safe without passing remediation costs onto leaseholders.’