According to Inside Housing:
“Despite repeated ministerial pledges that leaseholders will be protected from the bills, residents at the Paddington Walk development have already paid nearly £3.5m in service charges for the removal.
Residents across the blocks now face an additional bill of £5.4m to cover fire safety work, which could mean some residents paying out tens of thousands of pounds each. They have been told by the development’s building management company, Paddington Walk Management, that work cannot begin until it receives all the money to fund the work.
Paddington Walk was built in 2005 by European Land and Property, a joint venture development company owned by the billionaire Reuben Brothers and fellow developer the Jarvis family.
Contractor Carillion was chosen as the builder in 2005 but famously went into liquidation in January last year, owing an estimated £7bn to its supply chain.
The revelations come despite repeated calls by the government that developers and freeholders should protect leaseholders from the cost of re-cladding and assurances that “it will not rule anything out” for those companies that don’t.
In a letter sent by housing minister Kit Malthouse in mid-February to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, he said the government was unaware of any buildings where leaseholders have been forced to pay for re-cladding.
Inside Housing has seen a letter from the lawyers representing Paddington Walk Management that states residents risk losing their homes if the money is not paid.
A resident of the block, who preferred not to be named, told Inside Housing: “We are being hit by increasing fees and claims for interest on sums of money that they are insisting on collecting in advance, without even a final schedule of works or a start date.”
They added: “We feel completely abandoned by the government.”
It has also emerged that housing association Peabody is also on the hook for a hefty remediation bill as the head lessee for two of the blocks holding the development’s affordable housing. Peabody secured the lease for the two blocks, Montgomery Court and Montgomery House, under a Section 106 agreement.
Despite the government setting up a £400m fund to pay for re-cladding on social housing blocks, social landlords are still liable for the many homes they own in private developments. According to documents seen by Inside Housing, upwards of 90% of the £3.5m fund has already been collected from leaseholders. Private leaseholders expected to fund 69% of the total fee, with Peabody funding nearly 27%. The remaining money is expected to come from leaseholders of commercial units in the development. The service charge amount demanded in the legal letter sent by the management company includes interest due to late payment, as well as a bill for the management company’s legal costs. The re-cladding bills come on top of money residents have spent on interim fire safety measures, including a £21,000-a-week waking watch service and £263,000 for the installation of an internal alarm system.
Pressure is ramping up on the government to take action and speed up the remediation of dangerous cladding from private blocks and protect leaseholders from the large bills.
Last week Inside Housing teamed up with residents’ groups from affected blocks to launch the #EndOurCladdingScandal campaign.
European Land and Property has developed much of the Paddington Basin area where Paddington Walk sits, including the Merchant Square and Canalside Walk developments.
The current building owner is Paddington Walk Ltd, which shares directors with Paddington Walk Management Ltd. Both companies also list European Land and Property co-owner Bruce Jarvis as a director.
In addition to the presence of aluminium composite material cladding, a recent survey of the buildings found a litany of other fire safety issues including missing fire breaks, air gaps, between windows and panels, and combustible insulation.
An MHCLG spokesperson said: “Ensuring the safety of those still living in buildings with ACM cladding is of the utmost priority.
“Due to the lack of progress, the government is looking at a range of new additional measures to get building owners to do the right thing and get on with it.”
Paddington Walk Ltd said it was unavailable to provide a response.”