Sunday, May 5

‘The post-Grenfell cladding scandal has left me penniless and about to go bankrupt’

Malcolm Cameron-Lee thought he was doing the appropriate factor when he determined to take a position his lifesavings into property twenty years in the past to fund a snug retirement.

At the time, “pension schemes were being mismanaged” and, as {an electrical} contractor, he believed “the way things were working it was better to fend for yourself”.

But the dream of residence possession has was a nightmare due to the long-running cladding scandal that has left the 58-year-old “penniless and about to go bankrupt”.

“We’ve been stitched up for so long and now it’s ruined me,” he informed Sky News.

Malcolm purchased 9 small rental flats in Salford’s City Link improvement between 2007-8, for round £80,000 every.

But now they’re successfully valued at £0 due to defects present in checks required after the Grenfell Tower hearth.

The points embody flammable cladding, insulation, wood balconies, and lacking hearth doorways – with banks unwilling to take the chance of lending on the properties till they’re made protected.

The works have been estimated to value £33,000 per flat.

While ministers have repeatedly mentioned that leaseholders mustn’t pay for the errors of builders within the wake of Grenfell, which uncovered a widespread constructing security scandal, Malcolm is one in all many who doesn’t presently qualify for assist.

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‘We’ll pressure builders to repair unsafe buildings’

The protections introduced in final yr’s Building Safety Act exclude buy-to-let landlords who personal greater than three properties – so-called “non-qualifying leaseholders”.

People on this group could be liable to pay for cladding remediation and are additionally shut out from a protecting cap on costly non-cladding prices.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove beforehand mentioned the exclusion was as a result of he didn’t need to assist these with “significant means” to pay for remediation themselves.

But Malcolm accused the federal government of “discriminating against leaseholders who have grafted all their lives and saved hard to fund our own retirements”.

Having labored as {an electrical} contractor for 40 years, the earnings from the lease on the flats was his financial savings to place in the direction of his pension.

But these financial savings have run dry due to the “spiralling costs” of sustaining the properties.

Malcolm has needed to pay “extortionate” quantities for interim security measures akin to a waking watch and new hearth alarm system, the latter costing him about £1,200 per flat.

The block was destroyed in a fire disaster
The Grenfell Tower block in west London was destroyed in a hearth that killed 72 folks

His annual service cost has greater than doubled from £900 to £2,100 whereas his constructing insurance coverage is anticipated to shoot up by 42% this yr.

This is on high of rising mortgage charges which have prompted his funds to soar from £20,000 to £55,000 within the final yr.

Malcolm is successfully hostage to those phrases as a result of the protection points imply “the properties are valued at nothing, so there is no chance of being able to re-mortgage or sell”.

And he fears being caught for a lot of extra years as a result of there isn’t a timeline for when the remediation shall be full.

Since the problems got here to mild the developer of Malcolm’s 17-metre excessive block has dissolved and filed beneath a brand new title.

Rendall and Rittner, who now handle the City Link improvement, informed Sky News they’re “working towards a resolution” and indicated they are going to search funding for the cladding removing from the federal government’s medium-rise scheme for the place builders cannot be traced.

The Department for Housing additionally insisted Malcolm would profit from this scheme, regardless of his non-qualifying standing, when contacted for remark.

But the scheme – to be funded by a brand new tax on the constructing business – is not but open, and Malcolm can now not afford to attend.

Read More:
More than 900 folks agree civil settlement over Grenfell Tower hearth
Developers named and shamed for not signing post-Grenfell security contract

“I can’t carry on, I have lost all my money,” he mentioned.

“I am down to my last pennies, and I am going to file for bankruptcy beginning of May.

“I’ll lose the flats which have been my earnings whereas I used to be retraining as one thing else. I’ll lose my residence that I dwell in with my spouse and I’ll lose my pension.

“I am normally very positive, but this has left me feeling broken. If I wasn’t married, I’d be on the street.”

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Grenfell: ‘We’ll battle to the top’

A spokesperson for the Department for Housing insisted “all leaseholders in buildings above 11 metres are protected from the cost of fixing unsafe cladding” as they pointed to its varied funding schemes introduced to deal with the constructing security scandal.

But the End Our Cladding Scandal marketing campaign (EOCS) mentioned there may be extra to be finished, and Malcolm’s “desperate story spells out the unfairness of the supposedly protective legislation that the government has devised, which has limited the help that is on offer”.

The marketing campaign group estimates there are millions of non-qualifying leaseholders excluded from protections within the Building Safety Act. As nicely as landlords with a number of properties, the group contains these in low-rise buildings beneath 11 metres.

Campaigners worry the dividing line can have a ripple impact on remediation, with works delayed or unable to go forward if non-qualifying flat house owners cannot pay.

Giles Grover, a spokesperson for the group, mentioned: “The government has known about Malcolm’s circumstances for over a year, but has done nothing and there are many other non-qualifying leaseholders in the same situation – how many more ordinary people must have their lives ruined before Mr Gove, Mr Sunak and Chancellor Hunt will be moved to change course?”

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