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Fears increase among cladding-hit flat owners after fire destroys London block

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Cladding-hit flat owners saw their fears play out when a fire occurred in a block of flats in south-east London – on the same day as the Building Safety Bill was being discussed in the House of Lords.

Twenty-five fire engines and around 120 firefighters attended the blaze in Deptford last week. The London Fire Brigade said no injuries were reported.

However, the fire was a stark reminder to cladding-hit victims about the potential dangers of living in a block of flats where fire can spread quickly – particularly if it has unsafe cladding or missing fire breaks.

Lucy Brown, who lives near the block of flats that caught fire, claimed that it was the ‘third serious fire within three miles of her home in as many months’.

‘All of the buildings had major fire defects,’ she said. ‘The third building was still burning as the Lords defeated some amendments to the Building Safety Bill that would have protected leaseholders from costs to make their mis-sold flats safe.’

Twenty-five fire engines and around 120 firefighters attended the blaze at the block of flats in Deptford yesterday

Twenty-five fire engines and around 120 firefighters attended the blaze at the block of flats in Deptford yesterday

Last week, the Lords agreed to changes to the Building Safety Bill that were made by the Commons on April 20 , reversing changes previously made by the Lords on March 29 and April 4.

The Lords also defeated a fresh attempt to restrict leaseholder contributions to non-cladding costs to no more than £250.

After going back and forth between the Commons and the Lords, the Bill is now an Act of Parliament. It is likely to take between two and 18 months for it to come fully into force.

In short, it means that leaseholders in affected buildings above 11 metres or with at least five storeys cannot be billed for cladding costs from the end of June this year – and protection is backdated to February 14 2022.

However, in reality, it may mean leaseholders still having to pay for some work. This is because so far, only around 40 developers have reached an agreement in principle with the Government to remediate fire safety critical defects on buildings built in the last 30 years.

But contractual terms to implement that promise are yet to be announced, explained Liam Spender, a trustee of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, and a senior associate at Velitor Law.

He said: ‘The Government’s solution is welcome but complicated. It will only succeed if developers do not draft the agreements in a way that lets them off the hook.

‘Managing agents and freeholders will be responsible for implementing some of the cost protections. They have a poor track record in following current service charge law. The Government needs to take a firm line against all the parties involved if it is to succeed.’

Since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, concerns about cladding have become a national issue

Since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, concerns about cladding have become a national issue

There is no help for people who have already paid, or who have flats in buildings under 11 metres tall. And there is also no help for anyone who owns more than three buy-to-let properties.

However, leaseholders can still be called upon to pay between £10,000 and £100,000 in non-cladding costs.

Leaseholders in flats worth less than £175,000 outside of London – and £325,000 inside of the capital – cannot be requested to pay anything for non-cladding costs.

Cladding-hit flat owner Steph Pike said: While some progress has been made in relation to who pays for fire safety remediation costs, most leaseholders are still living in potentially unsafe buildings that are no closer to being fixed.

‘We found out my building had issues over two years ago, yet we have no idea when, or if, it is going to be fixed. We are still stuck in limbo.

‘The recent fires in blocks of flats in London make me really concerned that, if these buildings are not fixed soon, it’s only a matter of time before another Grenfell occurs.’

Leaseholder Steph Pike says the recent fires in London have made her concerned that, if these buildings are not fixed soon, it's only a matter of time before another Grenfell occurs

Leaseholder Steph Pike says the recent fires in London have made her concerned that, if these buildings are not fixed soon, it’s only a matter of time before another Grenfell occurs

And speaking last week, cladding-hit flat owner Natalie Carter said: ‘Yesterday’s fire raged on for almost 12 hours – that’s terrifying. At precisely the time the Lords were giving up the fight to protect leaseholders from all costs. 

‘Are the Government genuinely going to wait until the next Grenfell before they act? Why are we still working out who pays while more and more fires destroy homes and threaten lives?’ 

A DLUHC spokesperson said: ‘The Building Safety Act, passed today, will for the first time legally protect leaseholders from the cost of making their buildings safe.

‘Leaseholders will be freed from unfair bills, as building owners will be prevented from passing costs onto them.

‘This is in addition to pledges made by over 35 of the UK’s biggest homebuilders to fix all buildings 11 metres-plus they have played a role in developing in the last 30 years.’



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Six houseboats for sale starting from £30,000

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Houseboats are often perceived as a cheaper alternative to owning a property on land.

But they come with their own challenges and plenty of hands-on maintenance. And of course, there is the regular job of emptying your toilet.

You’ll either have to continuously cruise or pay for a residential mooring if you live on the boat full-time.

We take a look inside six different type of houseboats that are currently for sale and ask which one would you buy - ranging from one costing just shy of £30,000 (pictured - scroll down for more details) to one that costs £2.5m

We take a look inside six different type of houseboats that are currently for sale and ask which one would you buy – ranging from one costing just shy of £30,000 (pictured – scroll down for more details) to one that costs £2.5m

Houseboats come in various shapes and sizes, including narrowboats – typically 6ft 10 in wide and up to 72 long – and Dutch barges, which are former commercial vessels that can be up to 120ft in length and 20ft wide.

They also come with various price tags and so can accommodate all types of different budgets.

Below, we take a look at six various types, ranging in price from just shy of £30,000 and a more eye-watering £2.5milion.

Daniel Copley, of Zoopla, said: ‘Investing in a home on the water may not float everyone’s boat but for those who do take the plunge, it offers both affordability and freedom to up anchor and move to different areas.

‘With luxurious amenities and spacious living areas, houseboats are a popular choice particularly in and around London.’

1. One-bed houseboat, Glasgow, £29,500

This boat is currently moored at Applecross Wharf, in Glasgow, and was converted by the current owners from a former lifeboat escape pod

This boat is currently moored at Applecross Wharf, in Glasgow, and was converted by the current owners from a former lifeboat escape pod

The houseboat is now a home with a brightly-coloured kitchen, and is currently for sale for £29,500 via Home West estate agents

The houseboat is now a home with a brightly-coloured kitchen, and is currently for sale for £29,500 via Home West estate agents

There is one bedroom on the houseboat that is separate from the main living area and it includes some storage space

There is one bedroom on the houseboat that is separate from the main living area and it includes some storage space

This boat is currently moored at Applecross Wharf, in Glasgow, and was converted by the current owners from a former lifeboat escape pod.

It has a brightly coloured kitchen with wood flooring, and one bedroom. It is being sold for £29,500 via Home West estate agents.

2. One-bed houseboat, Brentford, £100,000

This one-bedroom houseboat is currently moored in Brentford, West London, and includes a comfortable living area

This one-bedroom houseboat is currently moored in Brentford, West London, and includes a comfortable living area 

The houseboat is on the market with a price tag of £100,000 and the sale is being handled by Strike estate agents

The houseboat is on the market with a price tag of £100,000 and the sale is being handled by Strike estate agents

The boat is a Dutch barge that has been completely renovated, and includes solar panels as well as a woodburner

The boat is a Dutch barge that has been completely renovated, and includes solar panels as well as a woodburner

This one-bedroom houseboat is currently moored in Brentford, West London, and the £100,000 price tag includes both the purchase of the boat and the rental mooring.

The mooring is in a quiet location and is within walking distance to Brentford high street.

The boat is a Dutch barge that has been completely renovated, and includes solar panels and hot water supplied by an immersion heater. It is being sold by Strike estate agents.

3. Three-bed houseboat, London, £408,000

This stunning Thames barge was built in 1929 and is moored at St Katherines Dock in central London on a leisure mooring where it has been for the past 23 years

This stunning Thames barge was built in 1929 and is moored at St Katherines Dock in central London on a leisure mooring where it has been for the past 23 years

The interior has been converted to include a large living area that has an extensive library and a TV area

 The interior has been converted to include a large living area that has an extensive library and a TV area

The houseboat spreads across 1350 sq ft of space and features three attractive bedrooms - including one with an en suite

The houseboat spreads across 1350 sq ft of space and features three attractive bedrooms – including one with an en suite

The well-presented houseboat has a price tag of £408,000 and it is currently on the market via the Unique Property Company

The well-presented houseboat has a price tag of £408,000 and it is currently on the market via the Unique Property Company

There is a large separate bathroom with a roll top bath and wood on the walls and ceiling, as well as on the floor

There is a large separate bathroom with a roll top bath and wood on the walls and ceiling, as well as on the floor

This stunning Thames barge was built in 1929 and has been converted into a three-bedroom home with central heating and a wood-burning stove.

It is moored at St Katherines Dock in central London on a leisure mooring where it has been for the past 23 years. The mooring costs £12,870 a year.

The boat has a price tag of £408,000 and it is being sold via the Unique Property Company.

4. Two-bed houseboat, West Sussex, £175,000

This marina boat is currently moored in Chichester Habour, which is just four miles from Chichester city centre

This marina boat is currently moored in Chichester Habour, which is just four miles from Chichester city centre

The property has a modern living area and is currently on the market for sale for £175,000 via H2O Homes estate agents

 The property has a modern living area and is currently on the market for sale for £175,000 via H2O Homes estate agents

The smart property boasts two bedrooms with modern coloured lighting, including this one that also features a TV on the wall

The smart property boasts two bedrooms with modern coloured lighting, including this one that also features a TV on the wall

There is a kitchen with white cabinets, a modern worktop and wood effect flooring to complete the monochrome look

There is a kitchen with white cabinets, a modern worktop and wood effect flooring to complete the monochrome look

This marina boat is currently in Chichester Habour and is for sale for £175,000 via H2O Homes.

It boasts two bedrooms and a bespoke awning allowing use of the deck come rain or shine.

5. Five-bed houseboat, London, £2.5m

This houseboat is currently moored at the prestigious St Katharine Docks, which is London's premier luxury yacht marina

This houseboat is currently moored at the prestigious St Katharine Docks, which is London’s premier luxury yacht marina

This 1930s steel boat for sale has an eye-watering price tag of £2.5million and is being sold by RiverHomes

This 1930s steel boat for sale has an eye-watering price tag of £2.5million and is being sold by RiverHomes

It has been converted into a luxury home with a central atrium stairway to a lower deck, which has five bedrooms as well as access to a jet ski platform

It has been converted into a luxury home with a central atrium stairway to a lower deck, which has five bedrooms as well as access to a jet ski platform

The large living area includes a kitchen with a breakfast bar, as well as a separate dining area with plenty of space to entertain

The large living area includes a kitchen with a breakfast bar, as well as a separate dining area with plenty of space to entertain

One of the more unusual features of the houseboat is a sauna (pictured), which adds a luxurious touch to the property

One of the more unusual features of the houseboat is a sauna (pictured), which adds a luxurious touch to the property

This 1930s steel boat for sale has an eye-watering price tag of £2.5million and is being sold by RiverHomes.

It has been converted into a luxury home with a central atrium stairway to a lower deck, which has five bedrooms as well as access to a jet ski platform.

6. Three-bed houseboat, Hampton, £500,000

This three-bedroom floating home is in Hampton, in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames

This three-bedroom floating home is in Hampton, in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames

It is on a desirable private island located in the middle of the River Thames and is for sale for £500,000 via Water Side Residential estate agents.

It is on a desirable private island located in the middle of the River Thames and is for sale for £500,000 via Water Side Residential estate agents.

The kitchen is well equipped and includes colour coordinated tiles on the walls and a white porcelain sink

The kitchen is well equipped and includes colour coordinated tiles on the walls and a white porcelain sink

This spacious bedroom includes plenty of storage on one wall as well as a good-sized window with a view of the River Thames

This spacious bedroom includes plenty of storage on one wall as well as a good-sized window with a view of the River Thames

This three-bedroom floating home is in Hampton, in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames.

It is on a desirable private island located in the middle of the River Thames and is for sale for £500,000 via Water Side Residential estate agents.

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Abrdn acquires Waddinxveen warehouse scheme (NL)

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abrdn European Logistics Income has signed the purchase agreement for the acquisition of the recently completed warehouse extension at Waddinxveen, the Netherlands, for a total net purchase price of €4.9m. The company exercised its right of refusal over this development located directly adjacent to the existing warehouse bought in 2018. This land, owned by and developed with our tenant Combilo, has provided an additional circa 2,400m² of cooled warehouse space and 157m² of office space. The extension will allow Combilo to service its growing client base, including a Swedish supermarket chain. The lease runs concurrent with the original, with over 11 years remaining, and will generate additional rent of €250,000 per annum, reflecting a yield of 5%. The extension complies with the latest energy neutrality standards in the Netherlands and includes 16 rooftop solar panels, resulting in an A+++ energy rating.

 

In addition, the company has agreed a new 5 year lease with ADER at Unit 3, part of Phase II at its Gavilanes site, Madrid. ADER provides distribution services to companies in the freight and logistics sector and is consolidating its operations in the Gavilanes area with the leasing of this second, 7,375m² building. The annual contracted rent of almost €470,000 per annum is fully CPI indexed and in line with expectations.

 

Evert Castelein, Fund Manager for ASLI, commented: “Supporting our tenants as they expand is a key part of our strategy. This is another example of how flexibility and the option to extend buildings within our portfolio can create additional value over the medium term. The new lease with ADER not only improves the portfolio’s income characteristics, but also underscores the desirability of the Gavilanes assets, which offer access to c. six million people across the wider Madrid area.”

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Garden offices and orangeries are increasing in popularity among homebuyers says Rightmove

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Garden offices, bi-fold doors and orangeries are among popular features that homebuyers are searching for, new research has revealed.

Rightmove looked at the home features that have grown the most in popularity, based on the number of agents advertising them as a key selling point on its website.

It found that garden offices top the list, with the proportion of property listings that mention them now 11 times higher than a decade ago, up 1046 per cent.

The proportion of property listings that mention garden offices is up 1046 per cent in the past 10 years, according to Rightmove

The proportion of property listings that mention garden offices is up 1046 per cent in the past 10 years, according to Rightmove

Rightmove looked at the home features that have grown the most in popularity

Rightmove looked at the home features that have grown the most in popularity

Bi-fold doors are second on the list, up 589 per cent compared to ten years ago, followed by orangeries, which are up 173 per cent during the same period.

Also in the list is summer houses, which have increased in popularity by 90 per cent, while greenhouses appear to be on the way out, down by 46 per cent.

Meanwhile, Rightmove said concerns about the environment are rising in priority, with the number of new property listings now mentioning an electric car charging point having increased six times, up 495 per cent, compared with a year ago.

The findings suggested that homeowners could be ditching separate dining rooms for more modern open plan options, with mentions of dining rooms in property adverts down by 28 per cent, and mentions of open-plan rooms up 74 per cent.

Rightmove suggested that the decline of the popularity of dining rooms may also be down to more people converting this room into a home office.

Other features dropping in popularity in the agent listings include conservatories, down 52 per cent, greenhouses, down 46 per cent and fitted wardrobes, down 29 per cent.

House hunters are seeking outdoor spaces and better use of these garden spaces

House hunters are seeking outdoor spaces and better use of these garden spaces 

Rightmove’s Tim Bannister said: ‘Agents and developers have their finger on the pulse when it comes to the home features that will attract suitable buyers.

‘Where dining rooms and fitted wardrobes may not be as important to some potential buyers compared with ten years ago, other features like an outdoor office space have soared as working patterns have changed, and the findings indicate a move towards greener features too.

‘With outside space coming at such a premium, it may be that homeowners are ensuring what they build outside can be used in a number of different ways.

‘For example, summer houses and orangeries are likely to have fewer or smaller windows than conservatories, and so can more suitably double up as home offices during the week and entertaining spaces at the weekend.’

The proportion of property listings that mention bi-fold doors has increased 589 per cent compared to ten years ago

The proportion of property listings that mention bi-fold doors has increased 589 per cent compared to ten years ago

James Holmear, of developer Redrow, said: ‘These findings flow from the demand for more space at home which can accommodate blended personal and professional lives.

‘Home offices have been increasing in popularity as many people continue to work from home on a more permanent basis.

‘Bifold doors are also highly sought after as they enable people to use space flexibly and extend their living space seamlessly into the outdoors. Sustainable features such as EV chargers, solar panels, water butts and eco waste bins are all rising up the priority list.’

Steve Rule, of Cala Homes, said: ‘Over the last couple of years there has been a real shift in what home-hunters are looking for.

‘Buyers are considering in much more detail what they really want and need from their home, and on truly optimising their space, especially as many are spending more time there through home or hybrid working.

Adrienne Minster, of Rated People, added: ‘Homeowners want to reduce their impact on the planet and cut the cost of bills by making their homes more environmentally friendly – in fact, the number one reason for making eco improvements is to lower their bills.

‘So, with the rising cost of living and increasing awareness of the importance of living sustainably, it’s no surprise to see that more homeowners are choosing to make greener swaps and invest in the likes of underfloor heating.’

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