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My entire life has been changed by combustible cladding

30 year-old Abi from Leeds is trapped in an unsafe property. She can’t start a family and is facing potential bankruptcy. Here, she tells us her story.

This is a guest post by Abi Tubis. All views expressed are Abi’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

Hello, my name is Abi and I’m a 30 year-old Key Account Manager from Leeds. My husband and I bought our first home in 2017 at the ages of 24 and 26, just six months before we got married.

We were able to buy a flat together so early in our lives as we both worked multiple jobs from young ages.

Achieving this took seven years of hard work and sacrifice – we never even took the same day off together, apart from rare holidays, as we were always working on our main goal of saving up for a home of our own. It was difficult and very challenging, but we felt it would be worth it.

I just want to start a family

In summer 2019 we decided to start trying for a baby. I was approaching 30 years old and, unfortunately, due to medical reasons, I need to try sooner rather than later for a chance to have a family.

So in July 2019, knowing we had equity in our home, we started looking at houses on the market: it was time to sell our flat and buy a family home to accommodate for a child.

But in October 2019, following the Grenfell tragedy, our high rise building undertook an inspection to check the materials that it had been built with. The results were devastating – my life has changed in ways I never could have imagined.

Homeowners stuck with unsellable and potentially unsafe flats

Unsafe materials we never knew about before were found. We visited banks and brokers, but each time were told we would not be able to sell our flat until it has been remediated.

My dreams of having a family are now in tatters. Following the report, a 24/7 waking fire watch was installed and is being charged to the leaseholders – it’s already cost me £5,000.

Last week we were told the remediation bill could reach £1.2 million – that is likely to work out at a further £15,000 to me directly.

Our lives are on hold

These figures mean we may lose our home and have to declare bankruptcy – I can’t bring a child into the world facing this situation.

Our lives are on hold due to the combustible cladding installed on our building, along with other fire safety defects through no fault of my own. I can’t believe I may have to pay the harshest possible price for the mistakes of others.

We bought a flat with the assurance it was safe, but the rug has been pulled from beneath our feet.

We’re now waiting to hear if we will be able to get funding from the government’s Building Safety Fund, but there are no guarantees of success with such a high number of buildings applying.

A year on from receiving the report that changed our lives, we are no closer to the end.

This was a guest post by Abi Tubis. All views expressed were Abi’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.