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London leaseholders take legal action against building owner over fire safety defect

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47 leaseholders have filed for legal action against the owners of a 94-flat building over fire safety defects.

The legal action comes after the Taper Building in south-east London was found to have ‘serious internal compartmentation issues and problems with external cavity barriers’, according to Inside Housing.

The building is owned by Grey GR, which is a subsidiary of the railway pension fund, Railpen, a scheme which caters to around 500,000 railway workers and is reported to have £37 billion in invested assets.

The company bought the freehold to the Taper Building in November 2018. Leaseholders have shown their frustration at the company’s reluctance to ‘pursue the developers for remediation costs’.


It is believed issues of fire safety were first found after a small flat fire in 2020 led to an investigation by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) from which deficiency notice was served.

A later fire risk assessment, using the PAS 9980-style assessment, concluded that the level of risk was ‘tolerable,’ but ‘only if life-safety critical work to fix the compartmentation is completed’. It is believed that it could cost anywhere up to £10 million to fix the defects.

Chair of the Taper Building Residential Leaseholder Association (TBRLA), Carlos Vasquez, said: “These are not the actions of a responsible freeholder. After more than two years of attempting to engage constructively with Railpen and its agents, our members are taking this legal action as a last resort to get what they paid for in good faith – the right to live in safe, saleable, and mortgageable homes.

“Lots of us need to be able to move on with our lives, whether that’s relocating for a new job or having a family. Despite literally hundreds of emails and dozens of virtual meetings, we remain trapped while Railpen and its agents drag their feet.”

Leaseholders filed the legal action on 17 February 2023 under Section 123 of the Building Safety Act 2022. They hope that, if successful, a remediation order will obligate the freeholder to fix the issues at the building.

As Inside Housing reported, 35 of the flats are owned by Wandle Housing Association, while the rest are privately owned. Representing TBRLA, James Sutherland at Burges Salmon said: “It is disappointing that the freeholders have adopted a course of action that commits both parties to a costly and time-consuming legal dispute, rather than working with the leaseholders to remedy the serious safety issues with this building.”

In response to the concerns of residents at the Taper Building, a spokesperson for Grey GR said: “Grey GR, via managing agents, have been in regular contact with leaseholders in respect of the Taper Building. 

“In line with government guidance, Grey GR commissioned a PAS:9980 report via respected independent surveyors. This assessment deemed the fire safety risks within the Taper Building as ‘tolerable’ and copies of the report have been provided to leaseholders.  

“We understand leaseholders organised their own analysis of our report, however the leaseholders have only shared the output this week. Whilst specialists review its content, we are unable to comment on next steps, however we have previously advised leaseholders that we are willing to commission a third review should we identify a material need. 

“Grey GR’s priority is the safety of residents, and we act based on the advice provided to us. Whilst we look to understand what, if any, works are required, we have reserved the right to pursue a claim against the developers.”

Read more here.

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