Flats sold for £900,000 in Camden ‘now worth nothing' due to faults
Residents in north London are concerned their properties may be deemed “unmortgageable” due to the defects.
"Distraught" homeowners in a new build block in north London fear their flats could now be worthless.
Residents at Agar Grove, in Camden, are concerned their properties worth up to £900,000 may be deemed “unmortgageable” due to the number of defects.
Within months of the first leaseholder moving in four years ago, the roof began leaking into the communal stairwell and terraces started letting in water, causing water damage to flats.
Interior and exterior walls have since started to crack, while some windows and doors no longer open and close properly.
The residents said despite years of reports about the building cracking, bending and leaking, the insurance company that provided the 10-year warranty has not paid out.
Software engineer Daniel Bruce, 38, sold his successful tech start-up to a bank and put down a 75 per cent deposit on an £850,000 apartment in the building.
He said: “For years we’ve been trying but the help isn’t there. We are the victims.
“We were sold catastrophically damaged homes. But nobody has got our back.”
Bruce added: “I don’t consider myself an emotional person, but I’m absolutely distraught."
Parts of his ceiling have come down and there are cracks throughout the apartment, while some windows no longer open fully.
Jewellery designer Alexandra Druzhinin, 49, who paid £900,000 for her apartment, is also beset by problems.
She said: “We constantly live in fear. We are completely trapped. We can’t get away from this.”
Leaseholders said they have forked out more than £300,000 in legal fees over their damaged homes and live in “constant fear” of total financial ruin.
Developer Prime Metro Properties based in Islington, north London, commissioned an expert survey, which found evidence of movement in the building.
A survey two years later by a different expert questioned the suitability of the foundations and found the building was unfit for purpose and potentially unstable and suggested demolition as a solution.
Prime said it was limited in what it could say about the block, not wanting to "prejudice any future proceedings”.
A spokesman said the firm retained three of the block’s seven flats, as it “continues to suffer the consequences of the problems which have manifested themselves”.
He added: “Since the building began to display problems we have spent a considerable amount of our own money and time investigating, trying to get to the root of these problems, and have taken matters up with various insurers and the warranty providers, at no expense to the other lessees, and continue to do so.”
Michael Gove, secretary of state at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), has offered the leaseholders a meeting.
His department has now released a letter, sent to Camden Council leader Georgia Gould on 3 May by Gove’s under-secretary Lee Rowley.
Rowley wrote: "Departmental officials have asked your building control team to consider whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Salus under section 57 of the Building Act 1984, for knowingly or recklessly signing off the building.”
Prime Metro Properties chose Salus Approved Inspectors to sign off the building.
Salus said it had not seen the surveyor reports, “despite requests from various parties that we are sent a copy to allow us to investigate”.
Director Stuart Power said: “Whilst we have heard second-hand that there are some issues, we are not privy to the specifics of the issues to allow us to comment fairly.
“However, we have been and are willing to review the reports, visit the site, engage with the owners or their representatives and investigate and make comments accordingly, once we have the relevant information to allow meaningful discussion and comment.
Acasta European Insurance Company said it was "the insurer for certain warranty and latent defect policies" at the block.
A spokesman added: "We take these concerns very seriously and are committed to fulfilling any obligations under the relevant insurance policies."
Camden Council said it was exploring what legal action could be taken to help the leaseholders.