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Residents of South London Block face £ 2.6million fire safety bill | London

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Nurses, teachers and post office workers are among those facing crippling fire safety bills which they say could reach £ 85,000 each, despite owning only a fraction of their own. House.

Housing association Optivo told key workers at shared properties at Oyster Court in Southwark, south London this week that they were facing a combined £ 2.6million bill to fix problems such as combustible sidings, wooden balconies and missing firestops.

Since the five-story building is less than 18 meters (59 feet) in height, none of the costs will be covered by the government’s £ 5 billion bailout for high-rise towers with combustible coating at the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Optivo said he believed residents could qualify for government loans to cover costs, but was still awaiting clarification. Ministers said they plan to offer loans with a maximum repayment of £ 50 per month.

Residents of a nearby block built for private sale, with two-bedroom houses selling for £ 620,000, are likely to see the government fund their siding works as it is over 18 meters tall.

Oyster Court is home to key workers and others who have purchased their properties under shared ownership programs – but under the terms of their contracts, they have to pay all, rather than part, of the bill. sanitation.

A charity worker who bought a 25% share of her house for £ 53,000 and faces a loss of over £ 20,000 said the bills were ‘devastating lives’. Emma McGovern, a teacher and mother of four who owns 45% of her house with a mortgage of £ 120,000, said: “This is crazy. I don’t know of any teacher who has £ 85,000.

This is the latest case of a growing building safety crisis that Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Upgrades, Communities and Housing, has been tasked with addressing.

On Tuesday, 120 households in a 22-story high-rise public housing Clare House in east London were told they would be moved urgently to temporary accommodation as it did not meet safety standards.

Clarion, the owner of the 50-year-old block, said engineers had identified concerns with the fire resistance of his large-panel system structure and that he had a non-compliant exterior wall insulation system.

Clare Miller, CEO of Clarion, said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but we will always put the safety of our residents first. We have a full package of resident support and there will be 24 hour surveillance in the building while we help people move in an orderly fashion. “

On Wednesday, Gove met with Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, to discuss building security in hopes it will protect tenants from the costs MPs have estimated at £ 15 billion.

He is also responsible for finding a way to hold developers and free owners accountable for defects created during construction. Gove is also coming under parliamentary pressure to protect tenants from Labor and more than 30 Tory rebels.

The residents of Oyster Court seem trapped in a larger dispute over the dangerousness of buildings like theirs. But building owners across England are moving ahead with multi-million pound work.

Denise Ramsey, 43, a charity worker who bought 25% of her apartment in Oyster Court with a £ 53,000 mortgage, said the bills were frightening. She wanted to sell, find a new home and start a family, but can’t anymore. “Time is running out,” she said.

Optivo said in a statement: “Our evidence shows that work is needed at Oyster Court to keep residents safe… We fully understand that the situation regarding the costs of fire repairs continues to be of concern to affected tenants, including our residents. at Oyster Court.

“We understand the difficult situation tenants find themselves in and will continue to press the government to protect them from these costs. “


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