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The real estate cladding scandal shakes the UK

The building faces the courthouse in Willesden, a popular area in north-west London. The facade is almost entirely concealed by scaffolding, behind which we can guess brick facings and beige plaster. The third and last floor is covered with a dark gray coating. Annika McQueen owns (only 40%) an apartment at 3e floor. Confinement requires, she preferred a meeting by videoconference. The young woman oscillates between anger and discouragement. She is one of the many victims of the huge British scandal of cladding (“Coating”).

“After the Grenfell Tower drama, I was miles away from thinking that my building, which only dates from 2012, had the same ACM coatings [matériau composite d’aluminium]. It was appraised in 2017. Since then, we are still waiting to know how much the renovation will cost us. It is very scary. There are days when it prevents me from sleeping ”, says Annika, who works from home for a London cultural institution.

Read also In London, three years after the Grenfell Tower fire, survivors are still waiting for justice to be done

At the start of 2021, she explains that it is a charity that owns the remaining 60% of her apartment. “The association says that it will not be able to cover the repair costs, that it will be up to us to provide 100%. We have a small income with my husband. What if you can’t pay? File for personal bankruptcy? We will lose everything: the apartment and the six years of loan repayment. I feel like I’m living a bad dream. “

Flammable coatings

On the night of June 13 to 14, 2017, a fire broke out on 4e floor of the Grenfell Tower in Kensington, central London. The fire swept over the entire 24-story building. A total of 72 people lose their lives in this drama which shocks the United Kingdom. It quickly became apparent that the ACM cladding installed on the exterior walls of the tower during its recent renovation facilitated its conflagration. While the trial of those responsible for the drama (still ongoing) begins, Theresa May’s government decides to secure all buildings over 18 meters with the same flammable coatings as Grenfell.

Since the beginning of 2020, building owners must carry out a fire safety assessment of their buildings, regardless of their size.

As of November 30, 2020, according to a study by the House of Commons, 217 tall buildings (over 18 meters) still needed urgent renovation out of the 460 ACM-covered towers identified in the country. The British government has pledged to finance this work from 2018. In March 2020, it agrees to release a fund of one billion pounds sterling (1.12 billion euros) to help renovate the towers covered with materials other than ACM and considered equally hazardous (there are around 11,000 in the UK).

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