in the back
Snakes & cladders
Fire safety, Issue 1480
victoria-wharf.jpg LATEST to join the Eye’s list of shameful wealthy property owners and developers who are dumping the cost of making their Grenfell-like buildings safe on to hapless leaseholders, are David and Patrick Kennedy.

They are behind a number of offshore property companies and are current owners of Victoria Wharf - two blocks in London’s East End and home to 87 flat-owners and families.

Since those blocks were found to be wrapped in highly flammable ACM cladding, the residents have so far been forced to share bills of £165,000 (and rising) for fire wardens, the recent installation of a wireless alarm system and engineer/surveyor costs. The only good news is that the new alarm system means they now only have to pick up the bill for one 24-hour warden, instead of three.

Multi-million-pound costs of re-cladding
The bad news is that down the line they will be forced to share in the multi-million-pound costs of re-cladding and possibly new insulation – unless there is a change of heart by the owners. So far, however, there is no indication that the current freeholder, Jersey-based Vuillard Holdings Ltd (one of the Kennedy family off-shore enterprises), is prepared to “do the decent thing” and pick up any bills.

As Eye readers are aware, so far around 300 privately owned blocks have been found to be clad in what the Grenfell inquiry was told was a product “more flammable than petrol”. Ministers have repeatedly urged developers and owners to do the morally correct thing and pay to put right the construction blunders on their own buildings. But a series of tribunal rulings has allowed ruthless operators like Aussie giant Lendlease and others to pass the bills on to those least able to pay, because clauses in most standard leases say flat-owners are liable for goods and services considered to be “for the general benefit of the apartments”.

This means that like other leaseholders around the country, they are now effectively trapped in unsafe buildings, unable to sell and facing rising bills that most can ill afford.

The Eye tried to contact the Kennedy family via one of their UK-registered companies, Formation Group Plc, to ask why they were not prepared to pay. Reply came there none.

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FYSH FINGERED
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SYNCHRONISED SWIMMING
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Next issue on sale: 16th October 2018
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Private Eye Issue 1479