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Cladding victim faces bankruptcy even if her repair bill is paid

A cladding victim has revealed that she faces possible bankruptcy in the next 18 months even if the Government pays for her repair bill.

Charlotte Meehan, 33, said owners of flats in her block in East London were being ‘bled dry’ by the soaring cost of interim fire safety measures that have been in place while they were waiting for remediation works to begin.

Those interim measures had so far racked up bills of nearly £500,000 for residents for a waking watch at the Bow development, she said.

They are being levied on top of the standard service charge and she is also worried that a huge bill may arrive for other fire defects that are not cladding and covered by any Government help.

Charlotte Meehan, 33, (pictured) said owners of flats in her block in East London were being 'bled dry' by the soaring cost of interim fire safety measures

Charlotte Meehan, 33, (pictured) said owners of flats in her block in East London were being ‘bled dry’ by the soaring cost of interim fire safety measures

Mrs Meehan issued the warning that she – and many others like her, including her husband who she bought the flat with – face bankruptcy in the months ahead, despite welcoming the housing secretary’s announcement this week. 

Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said that leaseholders were ‘trapped’ and that it was time to protect them and make ‘industry pay’.

He announced that leaseholders living in blocks under 18m – including Mrs Meehan’s block at 15m – would not have to pay their cladding repair bills. Only those living in buildings above 18 metres had previously access to the Fire Safety Fund.

He said: ‘We will scrap proposals for loans and long-term debt for leaseholders in medium-rise buildings and give a guarantee that no leaseholder living in their own flat will pay a penny to fix dangerous cladding.’ 

It is welcome news for affected leaseholders who faced financially crippling bills for remediation works, often running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

However, the current reality for many of these flat owners is that they still face massive bills to cover interim fire measures such as waking watches.

Mr Gove’s announcement this week was welcomed by Mrs Meehan and her husband, but she said that soaring service charges were already beginning to take their toll.

Their service charges cover the cost of a waking watch, which she claimed has already cost her development of 96 units in East London almost £500,000 for the last 18 months. 

The couple bought the one-bedroom flat in 2016 for £362,000, and has seen costs already run into thousands of pounds – and that’s even before the cost of the remediation works.  

Other developments affected by the cladding crisis are also seeing their insurance costs soar.

A waking watch bill for the building’s residents running at £293,500 per year, including VAT, has led to charges of about £490,000 over the past 20 months. 

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline Property, Mrs Meehan said: ‘I am cautiously optimistic about Gove’s announcement as it at least brings us into the conversation, I still don’t know if it goes far enough to force the developers to pay.’

‘We want full remediation costs, as well as those historic, present and future costs for safety measures put in place while we wait for them to remediate.

‘Our argument has always been that we are a connected building to a block that is more than 18 metres.

‘Remediating the section of the building that is above 18 metres and leaving the rest that is under 18 metres means the spread of fire is still significant.’

But she added: ‘There are some key elements missing from Gove’s announcement, including other fire safety defects outside of cladding not being included. Two thirds of our bill would be for fire defect repairs outside of cladding. It is a concern that leaseholders may still have to pay for those.’ 

‘Another is that we are being bled dry. I have not seen any cleaners in our communal areas for months. You can imagine what it looks like. It is ten years old anyway and is covered in graffiti. It is in a dire state of disrepair.

‘What happens to people like us who have no money left to do normal repairs as it has all gone our waking watch?

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

She suggested that the development’s £500,000 waking watch bill has left its reserve funds ‘decimated’.

She went on to explain: ‘These interim costs are extortionate and are bankrupting people now. Gove is not looking at those and that is my big concern.

‘Our service charges doubled last year and yet our salaries haven’t, so we can’t afford to pay them. We won’t have anything left.

These interim costs are extortionate and are bankrupting people now. Gove is not looking at those and that is my big concern

‘Not only have we got service charges rising to cover the cost of these extra fire safety measures while we wait to see if we are going to be remediated, the service charges are also rising as the reserve funds have been used and there is nothing to pay for normal everyday maintenance work.

‘The Government needs to look at all aspects that have affected leaseholders as a result of the fire safety building crisis. 

‘We have some savings but it is only a little bit of money to cover something like if our boiler packed up or to help us start a family.

‘We would not be able to pay should we receive an unexpected £10,000 service charge bill, and I don’t know how they expect us to come up with all this money.’

The cost of her remediation works are on top of any current service charge bills. Any fire safety measures outside of cladding systems, such as combustible insulation or missing cavity barriers, are unlikely to be covered by Gove’s latest funding announcement. 

The waking watch at her development has so far cost £244,608 a year plus VAT, a total of £293,500, and has been in place for 20 months.

Mrs Meehan said: ‘People are already out of pocket and even going bankrupt just due to interim measures.

‘The interim safety measures are bankrupting people, not just the remediation costs. You are meant to feel safe in your home but we can’t relieve ourselves of this financial burden. We have been forced to be here through no fault of our own and it is torture.’

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Hottest property markets revealed: Homes in Liverpool take just 17 DAYS to sell – half the typical average

  • Liverpool and Manchester homes selling the fastest, Zoopla data shows
  • Cheaper homes in demand while four-beds are taking longer to sell  

Homes in Liverpool and Manchester are the fastest selling in England, new data reveals. 

While properties in the North West are seeing rapid average sales times, those in southern England, Wales and the Midlands are taking almost two weeks longer to sell than in 2022.

Across England, homes are on the market for an average of 34 days before securing a sale, figures from Zoopla claim. 

Rapid sale: Homes in Liverpool and Manchester are selling quickly, Zoopla says

Rapid sale: Homes in Liverpool and Manchester are selling quickly, Zoopla says 

Homes in Salford, Basingstoke and Deane and Sheffield are also selling reasonably quickly, with an average timeframe of up to 24 days. 

Waltham Forest is the only London borough to see homes selling faster than the national average for England, with sales agreed in around 24 days. 

Two-bedroom terraced houses are the fastest selling property type in four in five regions, while four-bedroom homes are taking the longest to sell. 

In London, pricey detached homes with four or more bedrooms are taking around 59 days to sell, the findings suggest.  

In hotspots like the North West, the fastest selling type of property is the one-bedroom flat, taking 21 days on average to sell, and with prices around the £100,000 mark.

Meanwhile, four-bedroom homes in the North West are typically taking around 53 days to sell, with higher price tags at around £477,000. 

In the North West and North East, the average home is between £72,000 to £125,000 less expensive than the national average, according to Zoopla.

Quick sale: New data suggests it only takes an average of 17 days to sell a home in Liverpool

Quick sale: New data suggests it only takes an average of 17 days to sell a home in Liverpool

Higher interest rates on mortgages and the rising cost of living have been causing some buyers to ponder for longer when it comes to property purchases.

Izabella Lubowiecka, a senior property researcher at Zoopla, said: ‘Over the last 12 months, the time to agree a sale has increased by almost two weeks. 

‘This is due to a few factors: there are fewer buyers in the market alongside cost of living concerns and higher mortgage rates which has meant many have had to pause a search for their next home. 

‘However, we are now simply seeing a return to more normal market conditions experienced in the years leading up to the pandemic. 

‘Anyone thinking about selling should bear this in mind and be prepared that it may take longer to sell their property than in recent years.’

Data published by Nationwide on Wednesday revealed house prices defied expectations by rising 0.9 per cent last month.

But the index showed that house prices remain 3.3 per cent down compared to October last year.

House prices also remain 5.23 per cent, or £14,328 below their peak in August 2022, before mortgage rates began to rapidly rise.

The average home increased in price from £257,808 in September to £259,423 in October, Nationwide said.

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Choco: Revolutionizing The FoodTech Industry With Innovation & Sustainability | EU20

By Clint Bailey

— In the rapidly evolving world of food technology, European startup Choco has emerged as a pioneering force. With its website,, this Berlin-based company is transforming the way food industry professionals operate by leveraging innovative digital solutions. By linking restaurants, distributors, suppliers, and producers on a single platform, Choco is streamlining the supply chain process while promoting sustainability.

Let’s explore the journey of and its impact on the overall foodtech industry.

  1. Company: Choco Technologies GmbH
  2. Website:
  3. Head Office: Berlin, Germany
  4. Year Established: 2018
  5. Founders: Choco was co-founded by Daniel Khachab, Julian Hammer, and Rogerio da Silva.
  6. Industry: Choco operates in the foodtech industry, specifically focusing on digitizing the supply chain for the food industry.
  7. Funding: Choco has secured significant funding rounds from investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners & Coatue Management.
  8. Market Presence: Choco has a strong presence in several European cities, including Berlin, Paris, London & Barcelona.
  9. Mission: Choco aims to revolutionize the food industry by leveraging technology to simplify supply chain management, promote sustainability, and reduce food waste.

Simplifying Supply Chain Management

One of the core focuses of Choco is to simplify supply chain management for food businesses. Traditionally, the procurement process in the food industry has been cumbersome and inefficient, with numerous intermediaries and manual processes. Choco’s digital platform replaces the traditional paper-based ordering system, allowing restaurants and suppliers to communicate and collaborate seamlessly.

Choco’s platform enables restaurants to place orders directly with suppliers, eliminating the need for phone calls, faxes, or emails. This not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood of errors and miscommunications.

By digitizing the ordering process, Choco improves transparency, making it easier for restaurants to compare prices, track deliveries, and manage inventory efficiently.

Streamlining Operations For Suppliers & Producers

Choco’s impact extends beyond restaurants. The platform also provides suppliers and producers with valuable tools to streamline their operations. By digitizing their product catalogs and integrating them into the Choco platform, suppliers can showcase their offerings to a wide network of potential buyers.

Suppliers benefit from increased visibility, enabling them to reach new customers and expand their market presence. Moreover, Choco’s platform helps suppliers manage their inventory, track orders, and plan deliveries effectively. These features enhance operational efficiency, reduce waste, and ultimately contribute to a more sustainable food system.
YouTube Channel

Promoting Sustainability & Reducing Food Waste

Choco recognizes the critical importance of sustainability in the food industry. According to the United Nations, approximately one-third of the world’s food production goes to waste each year. By digitizing the supply chain and enabling more efficient ordering and inventory management, Choco actively works to combat this issue.

Air France – Deals & Destinations

Choco’s platform facilitates data-driven decision-making for restaurants, suppliers, and producers. By analyzing purchasing patterns & demand, Choco helps businesses optimize their inventory levels, reducing overstocking and minimizing food waste. Additionally, Choco supports local sourcing, enabling businesses to connect with nearby suppliers & promote sustainable, community-based practices.

Expanding Reach & Impact

Since its founding in 2018, Choco has experienced rapid growth and expansion. The startup has successfully secured significant funding rounds, allowing it to scale its operations and establish a strong presence across Europe and other global markets. Today, Choco’s platform is used by thousands of restaurants and suppliers, revolutionizing the way they operate.

Choco’s impact extends beyond operational efficiency or sustainability. By connecting restaurants, suppliers & producers on a single platform, Choco fosters collaboration & encourages the exchange of ideas. This collaborative approach strengthens the overall foodtech ecosystem and creates a supportive community of like-minded aiming to drive positive change within the industry.

Future Of FoodTech

Choco’s rise to prominence in the foodtech industry exemplifies the reach of sustainability, innovation, and community. Through its user-friendly platform, Choco simplifies supply chain management, streamlines operations for restaurants & suppliers, and actively promotes sustainable practices. By harnessing the potential of digital, Choco is disrupting the future of the food industry, making it more efficient and transparent.

As Choco continues to expand its impact and reach, its transformative influence on the foodtech sector is set to inspiring, grow other startups, and established players to embrace technology for a better and more sustainable food system.

We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

— Compiled by Clint Bailey | Team ‘Voice of EU’
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Want to sell your home over Christmas? Here’s why you should put the decorations AWAY

Across the country, a warm glow is beginning to appear — but might it be from Yuletide decorations destroying the chances of selling your home?

For some people the festive season involves inflatable Santas clinging to windowsills like burglars. Others prefer illuminated reindeers in the front garden.

But if you’re among the 100,000 households trying to sell this Christmas, the advice from many experts is to leave the lights in the garage and the plastic snowman in the loft.

Keep them in the garage: Over-the top decorations

Keep them in the garage: Over-the top decorations

Vendors must avoid anything that handicaps a sale in today’s difficult market.

Rightmove says the average asking price of homes across the UK coming to the market in November is 1.7 per cent down on October, while posh estate agency Savills reports some London prices are now 19 per cent below their peak.

And as buyers struggle to afford mortgages, the number of house sales nationwide this year is expected to be one million, according to Zoopla — or 20 per cent lower than usual.

The Your Move chain of estate agents is clear that decorations should be off the agenda, adding: ‘The key to potential buyers falling in love with a property is them being able to imagine themselves living there.

‘Piles of clutter and decorations make it harder. So make it easier for them by keeping spaces as open as possible.’

The key to potential buyers falling in love with a property is them being able to imagine themselves living there. Piles of clutter and decorations make it harder

The public seems to agree. A survey by GetAgent, a comparison site on which the public can find favourably reviewed estate agents, shows 24 per cent of would-be buyers say they’re deterred from viewing a home with excessive outdoor Christmas lights.

Colby Short, chief executive of GetAgent, advises: ‘Selling at Christmas is no different to any time of year and you have to remember that not everyone will share your tastes, or sense of humour.

‘A blank canvas works best when it comes to attracting potential buyers and if your home is covered in Christmas decorations, it can be hard for them to get a true sense of the property.’

Tasteful: Forget inflatable Santas and pick refined, calming colours if you're hoping to sell a property this Christmas

Tasteful: Forget inflatable Santas and pick refined, calming colours if you’re hoping to sell a property this Christmas

Tips for selling a home over Christmas

GetAgent recommends sellers stick to white lights and not coloured, flashing ones visible on a ‘walk-by’ initial viewing, and no gaudy exterior decorations.

Instead it suggests a festive twist on the smell of freshly baked bread — vendors should use Christmas scents such as cinnamon and mulled wine.

Not every agent is against decorations. Some, like Alex Oliver of buying service Prime Purchase, says they are inevitable and most buyers grin and bear them.

Nonetheless he tells sellers that if they must have decorations, they should follow two golden rules.

Firstly, don’t get a home photographed by agents at this time of year because listings on Rightmove with decorations in the photographs will make a home feel stale in the New Year.

Secondly, take the decorations down soon after the festivities to avoid giving the wrong message.

‘If the decorations were still up I’d be concerned there may be other issues that the vendor has not kept on top of such as maintenance or permissions for any works they may have had done,’ Oliver adds.

But many experts say listing your house now and having it on sale over the festive season has unexpected advantages.

That’s because Christmas is when many families have time to make plans for major events such as house-moving and, sadly, many couples agree to split up.

Agents say anyone preferring to view homes now instead of relaxing is likely to be a serious buyer, while there will also be significantly fewer homes on the market too, so you will face less competition.

Twelve months ago there were a jaw-dropping 51 million visits to Rightmove between Boxing Day and the first working day of 2023.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s data director, says: ‘Traffic to our website more than doubles between Christmas and the New Year, those sellers who get a head start now and have their home ready to launch can benefit.’

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