DANGEROUS cladding on a Middlesbrough high-rise could leave residents out of pocket as they are billed for the escalating costs of implementing essential safety measures.

Timber cladding on the Community in a Cube building does not meet safety regulations introduced following the fatal Grenfell Tower fire, The Northern Echo can reveal.

‘Stay put’ policies have been abandoned and regular fire patrols implemented after inspections found the cladding was unsafe and that fire alarm systems would need to be improved at the site.

A programme of immediate and interim measures is being rolled out in a bid to ensure the building complies with regulations, but shocked residents have been told they must foot the bill for work themselves.

Those who own properties in the building face a significant hike in annual service charges to cover the charges associated with the project.

A recent presentation delivered to residents by the building’s management team, CRM, outlined estimated costs for remedial works.

It said £60,000 - £5,000 a week - had already been spent on the 24/7 fire patrols and that it would cost an estimated £92,000 to remove the building’s central trellis and in the region of £145,000 to appoint façade consultants to manage the project. Installation of heat detectors must also be paid for.

According to the presentation, works to address the cladding problems are unlikely to be completed before March.

In September, CRM told leaseholders in Wales that they had just days to contribute thousands to a £5m repair bill concerning fire defects at three residential blocks in Swansea.

A spokesman for freeholders E&J - which enlist CRM to manage CIAC - confirmed responsibility for costs would fall to leaseholders but said there was a building warranty in place against which a claim could be made.

A claim has been initiated but concerns have been raised over the potential of the case not being settled prior to the imminent introduction of increased charges, with similar claims elsewhere being subject to lengthy legal battles.

Occupants fear an inability to immediately afford the new charge could lead to them being in breach of their lease and subsequently facing potential eviction.

Safety fears are also prevalent among residents, with the Grenfell tragedy fresh in memory and a recent high-rise fire in Barking highlighting the dangers of unsafe wooden cladding. The blaze, which happened in August, took hold of the building in minutes, destroying 20 flats and leaving residents temporarily homeless.

CIAC leaseholder Holly Shea said she felt trapped, adding: “The situation is exhausting and overwhelming, it has taken all of my energy.

“All I want to do is come home and rest but when I get home I realise that the place is the problem and it feels like there is no escape from it.

“Not only have I been living somewhere that is proven to be unsafe, but my financial security and future have been thrown into uncertainty.”

Ward councillor Matthew Storey said it was appalling that residents should be charged for the works needed and questioned why a service charge should “go up astronomically” because of an unsafe property.

Cllr Storey said he would back any challenge by residents, adding: “If you own a building clad in dangerous materials, it should be your responsibility to get that sorted.

“I do not believe that the costs should fall to leaseholders at all – they should be borne by the people who take the service charge.

“If you are taking it, it is your responsibility to make sure the building is safe for people to live in.”

There are around 80 properties within CIAC, many purchased by individuals and several managed by housing association Thirteen. The Northern Echo understands Thirteen will not seek to recoup costs from their tenants.

A spokesman for E&J said the company had great sympathy for residents and said all reasonable steps were being taken to assess and carry out any necessary works, adding: “This assessment is on-going and it is too early to determine exactly what works may be required.

“In the meantime, the management agent – in consultation with the fire authority – is undertaking changes to the fire strategy at the building to ensure the continued safety of residents.”

Joe Flounders, head of fire engineering at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said changes to evacuation policies had been made and other control measures implemented, adding: “The management company has been working with us effectively and is taking the situation very seriously.

“The company is working with the authorities to ensure the safety of residents and to make sure that the building complies with regulations. Everything that can be done is being done.”