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Disputed £2m cladding costs at London property tribunal

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A property tribunal has heard how an elderly resident of a London high-rise with cladding similar to that used at Grenfell Tower has been hospitalised after he was told that he would have to pay his share of the estimated £2m cost of repairing and replacing the cladding.

Richard Low-Foon, son of the 95 year old resident told the tribunal that a ‘miracle’ was now required as his father couldn’t sell his flat in the Croydon apartment block due to the investment risk for any buyer and had no other way of funding his share of the repair bill, estimated at £31,500 for each leaseholder. His father had also recently been moved to a care home on the basis that the sale of his flat would fund his care. The apartment block – Croydon Citiscape in Croydon, South London – contains 93 flats and is one of 262 blocks in the UK that have been found to have combustible cladding similar to that involved in the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017.

The Freeholder of Citiscape Croydon, with links to property magnate Vincent Tchenguiz, has said that it is not liable to fund the repairs, and the management company for the block - FirstPort, a large property management company that looks after 185,000 homes in 3,700 developments - has brought the case before the tribunal to determine who is liable for these costs. Initial estimates from FirstPort put the total cost at £485,000 plus £4,000 per week for fire safety marshals; this has now been revised to £2m in total. FirstPort are seeking a tribunal decision on the ‘payability’ of the costs, having been turned down for credit by RBS. In his opening remarks, the judge emphasised that the case would not set a precedent for the many other landlord / tenant / management company agreements in similarly affected blocks as it is a ‘matter of lease interpretation’, which is specific to each block. Judgement has been reserved to a later date.

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