Lewisham new build tenants paying £23K per year on cladding insurance bill

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

Families are having to fork out £1,000 per year on insurance for their homes because of fears cladding on their apartment block is dangerous.

Residents of Dane House in Sydenham are paying £23,000 between them annually due to insurers’ concerns that cladding on the third floor of their building is a fire risk.

The huge insurance bill has left some families fearing they’ll struggle to sell their £600,000 homes on the Exeter Place development in the future.

Dane House in Sydenham (Picture: Robert Firth)

Many residents living there moved into the block in 2019 after its completion and had no idea the cladding on the top floor of the building could be potentially dangerous at the time.

Mike Popesku, a marketing scientist who moved in four years ago, said the insurance costs were way too steep during a cost-of-living crisis.

The 41-year-old said: “Now we have huge inflation, it’s too much. We’re trying to manage the costs but we’re stuck with one insurer because no one else will insure it [the building].

“I’m paying about £1,000 for the insurance on this flat. When we moved in, we never knew the cladding was a problem.”

He added that Crest Nicholson, the company which built Dane House, had shown little interest in resolving the cladding problem.

He said: “I think they handed over the building and thought who cares?”

Timur Strekalov, a software developer who also moved into his flat in Dane House in 2019, said he paid about £1,000 for insurance the last time it came up for renewal.

The 36-year-old said: “I’m somewhat concerned with the cladding issue making the flat hard to sell. I’ve had friends that couldn’t sell their flat because of that. They had to wait until everything was fixed.”

Mr Strekalov and several other residents also complained about repeated flooding of outdoor storage areas during heavy showers.

Crest Nicholson said it believed the flooding was caused by water coming into an open car parking area, which  it said was an issue for the the block’s property managers.

Another resident, Tony O’Gorman, who moved into Dane House in 2019, said the only comfort he could take from the situation was that neighbours had so far experienced no problem selling or buying homes in the block.

A Crest Nicholson spokesman said: “The materials used on Dane House were compliant with building regulations at the time of construction and are also compliant with recently revised building regulations.

“Although Dane House is only nine metres in height, Crest Nicholson commissioned a fire engineer to review the building in 2020.

“That assessment deemed it safe subject to the replacement of a limited amount of balcony decking. Following those balcony works, an acceptable EWS1 was issued by the fire engineer.”

Pictured top: Dane House is on the Exeter Place development in Sydenham (Picture: Robert Firth)

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