An estate agency has been fined £30,000 after failing to tell the buyers of an apartment within a high-rise block that it featured similar cladding to the material that led to the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.
The young couple involved put an offer on the property in October 2017 but then found out half an hour after picking up the keys that the property within Hanover House in Reading (pictured, above) was clad in Aluminium Composite Material.
This is the kind of cladding blamed for the rapid spread of the Grenfell fire and the subsequent deaths of 72 people on 14 June that year.
Haslams Estate Agents was then investigated by local Trading Standards and has now been fined for neglecting to tell the buyers this ‘critical information’.
Investigating officers discovered that the estate agency had been sent the results of a safety inspection report on Hanover House before the couple completed on the deal.
Extraordinarily, a survey of the property did not pick up the problem because cladding materials at the time were not included in conveyancing surveys.
Haslams co-operated fully with the Trading Standards investigation and at the magistrate’s court it was revealed that it had improved internal communication procedures and made significant contributions to local charities.
Nevertheless, it has now been fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,646 and a victim surcharge of £170.
The agency told local media in a statement that: “Haslams is probably the most trusted estate agency in the area having served the people of Reading for over 180 years.
“Every day our staff receive thousands of calls and emails from our customers looking for our help or assistance.
“Unfortunately, this incident occurred because a communication received was not passed between departments in a timely manner.”
Read more about Grenfell Tower cladding.