Why has the inspection process taken so long for us?
We are aware some residents have been waiting a long time for an EWS1 form and the process to date has been lengthy.
EVML did find it difficult to find the appropriate professionals with the right experience to undertake this piece of work. While some inspections at East Village were undertaken at the end of 2019 and early into 2020, the progress was slow. In response, EVML engaged additional façade and fire engineers to deliver the programme. Getting the new engineers on board took some time, it was not until June last year that we had more certainty and confidence in the programme. There is a significant, national, demand for fire and façade engineers and it took some time to secure good teams of engineers.
The inspections at East Village were prioritised based upon a combination of technical (including safety) requirements and resident need. In some case, buildings needed to be re-inspected because of significant safety concerns. This had an impact on the programme.
Regardless of the practical reasons for the delay, we’re aware how difficult this has been for leaseholders, particularly those waiting for an EWS1 form; and both EVML and Triathlon Homes are sorry for the delays and the on-going uncertainty.
Who is going to be paying for the required remedial work?
EVML has registered the blocks for the MCHLG’s Building Safety Fund, and additional information from the fire and façade engineers has been sent to the MHCLG for them to assess the eligibility. We have no reason to believe the buildings will not be eligible, but are not able to guarantee this given the number of applications being made across the UK, and the limited funding available.
We have not yet made a detailed application for funding and are waiting for more news from the MHCLG regarding eligibility and the process for applications to the funding announced in February 2021.
The Building Safety Fund only covers the cost of repairs to the external wall system. The installation of smoke detectors or any work on the balconies will not be covered by the fund. The cost of these works would need to be funded through other sources. This could include recharging through the service charge. When we have a costed plan from EVML, we will let you know the potential cost to residents.
We are actively exploring a legal claim against the original builder and EVML’s solicitors are progressing this. A formal claim has not yet been made because we do not yet know the full cost of remediation. We will keep residents updated when progress is made, and we have a clearer idea of how this can move forward.
Both EVML and Triathlon have warranties against the contractors, and we can call on those. However, we would expect they will be challenged. If this is the case, then we will need to make a decision about litigation.
Doesn't the reserve, or sinking fund cover this type of work?
Some residents have raised the possibility of using the reserve, or “sinking” fund, as a way of offsetting costs to residents.
At East Village, the sinking fund is used for two main purposes, the long-term maintenance and repair of the blocks (lift renewal etc.) and shorter term projects such as the decoration programme. The fund is held by EVML on your behalf and audited annually. Some residents would like to draw on these funds for the fire safety work. However, on an East Village wide level, using the sinking funds for the fire safety works would leave the fund unable to meet the future obligations to repair the blocks.
How did we end up in this position?
You, like us, would have expected adequate quality control through the construction process, and appropriated diligence when the buildings were signed off by the local authority’s building control. These questions are being investigated by EVML and they are crucial to any legal claim. EVML has requested additional information about the construction from Lendlease.
What happens next?
EVML has received proposals for the next stage of work to assess and implement the mitigating measures. They are discussing the next steps with the engineers and their fire risk assessors. We don’t yet have a full programme, or breakdown of costs, but will give you this information once we have it. We expect this work to take about five months. We’ll let you know when we get the green light for this approach from the London Fire Brigade and the fire risk assessors.