AN ESTATE agent in Reading has been fined £30,000 for delaying to tell buyers of a flat that there was cladding, similar material found on the Grenfell Tower.

Reading Borough Council took Haslams Estate Agents ltd to Reading Magistrates' Court on October 25, where they were fined thousands of pounds.

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The private flat in Hanover House, Kings Road, was marketed by Haslams, on instruction by Savills Estate Agents on behalf of the owner.

The buyers had an offer accepted on the property in October 2017 however an inspection a month later discovered the building's cladding contained aluminium composite material (ACM).

Cllr Ellie Emberson, lead member for corporate and consumer services, said: “This was an important prosecution which involved a business failing to pass on critical information to a consumer, which has understandably caused them a high level of stress and anxiety.

“The fine should serve as a reminder to businesses. The Council’s Trading Standard’s team has welcomed Haslams’ response to the investigation and the improvements it has made to prevent it happening again.”

Haslams, which lets several flats in the block, were sent the information about the ACM on the same day as the inspection, which was before the date on which the buyers exchanged contracts.

The information about the 'dangerous' cladding was withheld with the lettings team and was not shared to the sales department.

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Despite the information about the fire hazardous cladding, the sale was completed on the following day on November 17.

Half an hour after collecting the keys, the buyers were told by the Haslams sales team about the ACM.

During the hearing, the buyers made clear had they of been aware of the ACM cladding they would have not gone through with the sale.

Haslams pleaded guilty and offered in mitigation that it was of previous good character and had compensated the buyers for management fees and loss of car parking, co-operated fully with the investigation and a government scheme is in place which should manage the cost of replacing the cladding.

The estate agents also told magistrates that it had taken action to improve communications between its lettings and sales teams and that it makes significant contributions to local charitable causes.

Haslams was fined £30,000 and ordered by magistrates to pay costs of £2,646 and a victim surcharge of £170.