In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the safety of tower blocks has come under intense scrutiny. Many older tower blocks still have external cladding, which is believed to have contributed to the spread of the deadly Grenfell Tower inferno.
£4 Million Bill
A London-based landlord, who owns the freehold of a tower block in Slough, is refusing to pay the £4 million required to make essential safety modifications to the building. There are 68 flats in the building, each of which is privately owned. The landlord’s company has been charging residents £250,000 per year, a fee that covers ground rent and service charges.
Leaseholders were sent a bill for £22,000 each, which would cover the cost of the re-cladding work required to make the building safe, but they refused to pay. Their argument was that the freeholder should pay; the secretary of state for housing, Sajid Javid, agreed. The landlord is refusing to pay, so Slough Council is preparing to take over the freehold of the building and cover the cost.
The Landlord is Responsible
This is a sorry situation for everyone. Unfortunately, as the Residential Landlords Association is reminding landlords, it is up to “the responsible person” to pay for essential repairs, which is usually the landlord.
Many private sector landlords who own the freeholds on blocks of flats with unsafe cladding could soon be facing very large bills.
“We are clear we want to see private sector landlords follow the lead of the social sector and not pass on the costs of essential cladding replacement to leaseholders,” says the government.