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Our current project in this area:
Metis apartment building, 1 Scotland Street, Sheffield City Centre S3 7AT has a modest amount of Grenfell Tower cladding on the exterior. We are supporting apartment owners in their quest to get this replaced without being a cost on individual leaseholders.
Document formulated by Changing Sheff on behalf of Metis owners: 15-02-2019
No-one is willing to accept the cost of replacement cladding and residents are concerned about their situation.
Category 3 Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) of the kind used on Grenfell Tower has been used for cladding and there is disputed responsibility for rectification between building lease-hold owner, property management company and individual apartment leaseholders.
Their summary of their dilemma is shown at the end of these notes. It raises a number of important questions relevant to all private owners of leased apartments. So far the Metis residents have been unable to get answers to their questions and the building is in a potentially dangerous state for which no-one is willing to take responsibility.
SCCRAG has summarised the questions as follows:
1. As a consequence of testing by Claire Turner of the British Research Establishment (BRE) a report was produced about the situation relating to Metis building, presumably identifying risk associated with the cladding. Neither Metis residents nor South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service (SYFRS) have been able to obtain a copy of this report.
a. How can they get one?
2. Property managers Fairways have been told by SYFRS that the cladding met fire & building regulations when built in 2005. Sheffield Building Control says they have no information on the cladding from the time of construction. This raises the questions:
a. Should this class of material have been approved by Building Control in 2005?
b. Should its use have been notified to Building Control at the time of seeking approval to build?
3. Apparently building managers Fairways have been advised that the cladding must be replaced.
a. Who should pay for this comprehensive and expensive work?
4. HMG is apparently funding replacement of unsafe cladding on public and social sector buildings above 18 metres high. But Metis is a private building. The estimated cost of the replacement is £££. Each individual leaseholder has been told their cost will approximate to £20,000. Many cannot afford or raise this amount, especially on a building that has been blighted in this way.
a. How can it be financed?
b. Is there any legislation in place or planned that puts responsibility for replacement on a particular organisation?
5. The original builders/developers Metier have ceased trading. This is standard practice for companies building apartment blocks, presumably to avoid subsequent claims against faulty construction.
a. What action is HMG taking to stop this practice?
b. Can legislation be created that forces development companies to create a sinking fund available to the premises they built for a lengthy period after construction, in the event of them liquidating the company?
c. Does HMG have any plans to do this?
6. The Metis freehold owner, Adriatic (GR3) Ltd and their agents Forte Freehold Management Ltd refuse to fund the replacement cladding.
a. Has HMG taken any action that identifies who is legally liable to fund the work in similar circumstances?
b. Has HMG set aside any finance to enable cladding to be replaced in these situations?
7. A government press release 29/11/18 explained that, under the Housing Act 2004, local authorities will have the power to carry out remedial work on private buildings with ACM cladding. James Brokenshire stated that "…the costs must not be passed on to the leaseholders".
a. Has this been enshrined in law?
b. Or is anything proposed that will clarify where responsibility lies for remedial work to be funded in line with Mr Brokenshire's statement?
8. Kit Malthouse on 28-01-19 affirmed at a Housing, Communities and Local Government select committee meeting that primary responsibility for building safety lies with the developer. But where, as so often happens, the developer liquidates the company soon after completion, where then does the liability then fall?
a. Does the head leaseholder take over the responsibility where the developer has been liquidated?
b. What controls exist to stop the head leaseholder passing this liability to individual leaseholders through the property management company?
9. Lease-holding individuals are unable to sell their apartments in this situation because of the uncertainty it presents.
a. What plans does HMG have to resolve this problem and what is the expected timescale?