Jack's Story (an NHS Doctor)

Block Name: The Nile

Block Location: Deansgate, Manchester

Block Stats: 138 Flats

Block Issue: Zinc cladding without horizontal fire breaks, despite the building being over 18m. Also requirement for widespread improvements to pipe and cable penetration firestopping

My Personal Story

My wife and I bought a flat in the river city complex in Central Manchester as our first rung on the housing ladder. About a third of the buildings are covered in zinc cladding. I am a doctor in the NHS, and in early 2018 I had interviews for my registrar training and was allocated to the South Coast. Our flat was duly put on the market, and in the process of being sold when the management company first made us aware of the potential fire safety issues. This caused the sale to fall through in August 2018 and forced us into the position of unwilling landlords – not moving south was not a feasible option. At that time, we were staying in a friend of a friend's spare room, expecting to be able to buy but suddenly faced the uncertainty of renting for a prolonged period. Fortunately, my mother was willing to lend us a deposit so that we could actually have a home and set roots. The management company for the Manchester flat, had proposed some initial works that were compliant with the fire safety recommendations. We paid the £900 for these and were of the understanding that this would draw a line under the issue and were in the process of progressing a sale last summer (2019). However, the government then released further guidance last August which caused that sale to fall through too! We are currently still waiting for certainty of guidance. I have been told that the anticipated costs for the first round of testing to comply with the latest guidance would be 30-40k in total. I am left renting out the flat and losing money as the income doesn't cover the costs (plus the extra tax I have to pay on that income!). My mortgage provider is insisting I change to a buy-to-let mortgage with a 2k product fee, and limited options to change provider in the current circumstances, and I am likely going to lose the £11k in stamp duty I had to pay when buying down south (as it counts as a second home) as I see the prospect of selling the Manchester flat within the 3 year time frame increasingly unlikely. And that is before we consider if the leaseholders are going to end up paying more too. I am well aware that my situation is not as stark or grim as many, however the unforced uncertainty and constant financial worries are certainly a psychological drain and never far from my thoughts. It certainly impacts on our decision about starting a family as we have such financial uncertainty. It is especially frustrating when the NHS recruitment structure can enforce moving regions on you and there isn’t much you can do about it!

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