James O'Brien left reeling by caller's financial mess to make home fire safe

25 August 2020, 15:48

By Seán Hickey

This caller explained how loose building regulations left him and his neighbours stuck between forking out millions to make their flats fire safe, or walk away from them.

Peter phoned in from Newham as James O'Brien discussed Rachel Venables' exclusive on how many in the UK have been left with massive costs to make their homes fire safe, or else they are worthless.

He told James his building failed safety inspections "on the basis that they cannot test whether it will pass or not."

He went on to explain that 50% of the materials insulating his building may be flammable, but "in order to take out this less than 50% of combustible material...you're going to have to strip the entire building back to its original concrete load-bearing walls, which is an uninhabitable situation for everyone in here."

"If we went for that test we would miss the deadline for the cladding application from the government which ends in December, so we've essentially had to self fail because the fire engineer can't tell us whether we will pass or not."

After James asked if it would help if the government's application process was extended, but Peter claimed that the issue is cost.

The caller explained that he and his neighbours are being put in an impossible situation
The caller explained that he and his neighbours are being put in an impossible situation. Picture: PA

Peter added that "it's a total lack of clarity" which is at fault, and there is no one individual to blame for this crisis.

"You cannot just implement hip-jerk reactions and at every stage of the process," he said.

"If we don't get the application for that funding, our external costs are anywhere between four and eight million to replace the outside of our building."

The caller was clearly dejected and told listeners that many of his neighbours have tried to hand back their keys to the bank, yet "the bank doesn't want the keys because the flat is worthless."

James added that "they're still be liable for the debt to the bank."

"This is appalling."

"I can't remember the last time this happened on the radio," James concluded.