Couple fear bankruptcy over cost of removing risky cladding from flat

Couple living in a flat with dangerous cladding say they may have to declare bankruptcy due to the £25,000 cost of removing it – and fear it means they’ll never be able to start a family

  • Abi Tubis, 29, of Leeds, lives in a flat wrapped in highly flammable cladding
  • She and husband bought flat in February 2017, four months before Grenfell fire 
  • Now face crippling bills of over £25,000 to remove cladding plus extra charges
  • Say they may miss out on opportunity to have children due to bankruptcy 

A couple living in a flat with dangerous cladding say their life is ‘on hold’ and they may have to declare bankruptcy due to the £25,000 cost of having it removed.

Abi Tubis, 29, of Leeds, is among the thousands of people across the UK who are trapped living in unsafe flats with flammable cladding. 

Speaking to the BBC, Abi said she and her husband want to start a family but can’t because they could face a crippling repair bill of over £25,000 which would bankrupt them – and can’t sell or remortgage until the cladding is removed.

Lenders have been refusing to offer mortgages on tens of thousands of homes after new safety rules were introduced in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. 


Abi Tubis, 29, of Leeds, is among the thousands of people across the UK who are trapped living in unsafe flats with flammable cladding, and says she feels like her life is ‘on hold’

‘If we want to have a family, we have to start now and we can’t, we can’t financially because we might have to declare bankruptcy due to this. We couldn’t bring up a child in an unsafe home,’ she said.

‘I’m stressed and anxious, like, I don’t feel like me. I feel like I’m living someone else’s life.

‘I just wake up every day thinking, “Why? Why is this happening to me? Why is my life being impacted in this way?”‘

Abi bought her first home in Leeds city centre with her husband in February 2017 at the age of 26 and told how she felt ‘such a sense of pride and accomplishment’.

Abi bought her first home in Leeds city centre with her husband in February 2017 (pictured together in their flat) at the age of 26 and told how she felt ‘such a sense of pride and accomplishment’

Abi said she and her husband want to start a family but can’t because they could face a crippling repair bill of over £25,000 which would bankrupt them – and can’t sell or remortgage until the cladding is removed

But she admitted her dream has ‘become a nightmare’ and she now wishes she was still renting.

The couple face remediation bills and a monthly bill of £400 on top of their mortgage for 24-hour fire wardens because their building is unsafe. 

‘I live on the floor where the cladding starts, so my flat is like wrapped around with cladding,’ she explained.

‘Every night we have that fear of, if the alarm goes off, we’ve got our stuff ready and our emergency bag to just go and just to leave as quickly as possible.’

She added: ‘It’s even bigger than you can imagine. It’s just, it literally is just pulling and ripping our lives apart.

Abi admitted her dream has ‘become a nightmare’ and she now wishes she was still renting

‘And we’ve known about this for a whole year, and Grenfell happened over three years ago, and nothing has changed.’  

The Grenfell tragedy, which killed 72 people, exposed decades of ‘utter rubbish’ building work and regulatory failure that left flammable materials on the building to feed the blaze that ripped through dozens of homes. 

The Government has set aside £1.6 billion to help fund repair work, but MPs expect total costs to amount to £15 billion.

It means some leaseholders face bills of up to £115,000 each to make their homes safe. 

Around 3,000 buildings have applied to the Government fund, including Abi’s in Leeds. 

Around 3,000 buildings have applied to the Government fund, including Abi’s in Leeds (pictured)

Abi, who lives on the floor where the cladding starts, told how every night she and her husband have fear of the alarm going off, and have packed an ’emergency bag’ to leave as quickly as possible

MPs and campaigners are calling on the Government to pay for the work to be done, but earlier this week building safety minister Lord Greenhalgh said ‘some costs would fall on leaseholders’, but the Government will aim to make it ‘affordable’.

Abi said: ‘Why should we pay? You wouldn’t pay for a faulty car after you purchase it. It is completely scandalous that all of these costs are coming down to the leaseholders.

‘The fact is, we are paying and it shouldn’t be the case, it should not happen.’

In March, Abi tweeted that she was put on furlough from her job, with an expected return to work date in July.

While she was able to put her mortgage on hold, she pointed out she was still expected to pay her increased service charges and the additional fee for 24/7 waking watches – while having to isolate in a dangerous building is ‘terrifying’.  

This week it emerged growing numbers of people who own flats with dangerous cladding are turning to firms that pay cash for unwanted properties at cut prices.

Money Mail revealed some owners have been left with no choice but to accept reductions of up to 40 per cent on their asking price. 

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE GRENFELL TOWER FIRE AND HOW MANY PEOPLE DIED?

The 24-storey Grenfell Tower block on fire in June 2017 

A blaze tore through the 24-storey Grenfell tower block in west London in the early hours of June 14, 2017 after a fire began on the kitchen of a fourth floor flat. 

The exterior of the tower in north Kensington was quickly engulfed in flames before consuming the interior of the block, with firefighters responding to a fire after it was reported at 00:54 BST (23:54 GMT).

The fire started on the fourth floor and was not deliberate.

After official death toll figures were challenged in the emotionally-charged weeks after the fire, police said the final figure for the number of victims was 71, with more than 200 people managing to escape.

Police said there should have been 350 people in the block at the time of the fire, with 14 residents not home at the time. 

There were 120 homes in the tower block that were destroyed including more in the surrounding area. 

Around 200 firefighters were sent to fight the blaze and rescue those still trapped inside, with 65 people rescued. 

A public inquiry opened on September 14 into the cause and spread of the fire. 

Flammable cladding – installed on Grenfell Tower in a recent renovation – was slammed by experts who recently explained in the inquiry that it’s incorrect installation contributed to the rapid spread of the fire.

Around 200 firefighters were sent to fight the blaze and rescue those still trapped inside. Fire and rescue workers at a one minute silence by Grenfell Tower in west Londo in the days following the blaze

In a report five fire safety experts examined the fire and gave their views on how the fire started, how it spread and why so many people were killed.

Dr Barbara Lane, an expert commissioned by the Grenfell Tower inquiry, delivered an excoriating assessment of the refurbishment which finished a year before the fire.

The rainscreen cladding put on the building used material that did not meet fire safety standards, while the system as a whole was not capable of effectively preventing the inferno spreading, she found.

Another expert, Professor Luke Bisby, found a series of problems with refurbishment work carried out on Grenfell before the fire.

Prof Bisby said the main reason the fire spread was the polyethylene-filled ACM rainscreen in the cladding.

A public inquiry, led by retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, is taking place , looking at the adequacy of regulations, the tower’s refurbishment and the response of the emergency services in the immediate aftermath. 

Hundreds of people are still without a home with many Grenfell residents living in hotels and temporary accommodation a year on. 

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