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Hackney high-rise residents locked in by £0 valuation related to cladding risk

Written by: Liz Bury
New guidance in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy requires owners of high-rise properties to guarantee their safety - and not all have been able to
Hackney high-rise residents locked in by £0 valuation related to cladding risk

Hackney Council in London has been unable to guarantee the fire safety of cladding on its Kings Crescent Estate resulting in a £0 valuation that has trapped one of its leaseholders, with hundreds of others put at risk.

The housing development of high-rise blocks comprises 490 new and refurbished one-, two- and three-bedroom flats that are a mixture of outright-owned, shared ownership and social rented properties.

The Hackney Gazette highlighted the problem a with a report about valuation issues last week and later confirmed that the cladding used was Kooltherm K15 from Kingspan, the same as was used at Grenfell Tower.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) issued new guidance on fire risk in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy which required high-rise property owners to guarantee the fire safety of their buildings.

The advice tasked managing agents or freeholders with producing written reports by suitably qualified professionals.

Hackney Council has failed to confirm to Your Mortgage‘s sister title Mortgage Solutions whether it has conducted an up-to-date fire risk assessment on Kings Crescent Estate or the outcome.

Last week, MHCLG opened applications to a fund of £200m for removing and replacing unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding on 181 private buildings. The funds apply to blocks of 18 metres or higher.

“Government funds are available for private building owners to remove and replace unsafe ACM cladding. I will name and shame those who do not act during the course of the autumn,” said Robert Jenrick MP, secretary of state for housing.

MHCLG earmarked £400m to cover the cost of remedial works on social housing in 2017.

Clear policy required

MHCLG had identified 435 buildings as having ACM cladding systems unlikely to meet building regulations as of 31st August.

Of these, 181 were private sector buildings, 158 social housing, 56 student accommodation, 30 hotels and 10 publicly-owned buildings.

The department has named local authorities with buildings yet to be remediated. Hackney appeared alongside 27 other local authorities in the category of 1 to five buildings still to be upgraded.

Greg Cunnington, director of lender relationships and new homes at broker Alexander Hall, said: “The key is awareness among leaseholders and freeholders and managing agents of blocks that may be affected, so that they get the wheels in motion to look into any works that may be required.

“We are seeing blocks where they are completely up-to-date, but the leaseholder is not aware which causes delays if the valuation comes back with queries.

“The more prepared all parties in the chain are, the smoother these transactions will become.

“The lender can play a role by having a very clear policy and communicating this with clarity, and by having a simplified process of supplying documents to the valuer, so that the client or freeholder can easily understand what’s required. Many lenders are already well down the line on this,” Cunnington added.

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