Newham Council has successfully prosecuted a building owner that failed to remove dangerous cladding from a residential high-rise in East London.
The local authority pursued legal action against Chaplair Ltd using powers under the Housing Act 2004. Chaplair had failed to remove flammable cladding on the Lumiere building by the 31 March 2021 deadline imposed in an improvement notice issued by the council in September 2020.
Work eventually began in May 2021, and the dangerous cladding was removed by February 2022. Through its legal action, the Newham successfully argued that there was no reasonable excuse for the delay.
The council claimed it is the first local authority in Britain to successfully prosecute a building owner that failed to remove dangerous cladding.
‘Zero tolerance’ for delaying fire safety work
The council said the prosecution marks a major milestone for Cladding Action, a campaign launched by Newham Council to put pressure on building owners to remove all outstanding unsafe cladding in residential high-rises.
Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, said the council has “zero tolerance for owners of buildings delaying essential life-saving fire safety work”.
“Failing to remove dangerous cladding as quickly as possible places lives at risk and, where necessary, we will act with full force using the powers we have to protect our residents,” she said.
“Six years after the Grenfell Tower disaster, [the] decision by the court symbolises a landmark ruling in our fight to raise standards and hold building owners to account.”
In his ruling on Wednesday at City of London Magistrates’ Court, deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram said: “The prosecution have satisfied me so that I am sure that a valid improvement notice was served and the defendant company did not carry out the required remedial works relating to the external facades within the required period.
“The defendants have failed to satisfy me that they have reasonable excuse in failing to comply with the improvement notice. I therefore find Chaplair Ltd guilty of the offence.”
In February 2020, the government published a list of five companies, including Chaplair, that failed at the time to remove dangerous cladding from their buildings almost three years after the Grenfell fire that killed 72 people.
Chaplair Ltd will be sentenced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 31 October.
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