Leaseholders still at risk of having to pay huge sums for cladding replacement

We don’t often reference the Daily Mail here on LDV. But this week they published a generally supportive article (with photos of both Ed Davey and Hina Bokhari): Campaigners call for more help for cladding-hit flat owners and a proper overhaul of leaseholds after latest vote on Building Safety Bill.

Leaseholders across the country, particularly in cities with high rise blocks of flats, are concerned that they will have to pay for the replacement of dangerous cladding.

The Government insists that leaseholders are protected from the costs of dangerous buildings.

Earlier this year, the Secretary of State for Housing Michael Gove said leaseholders ‘are blameless, and it is morally wrong that they should be the ones asked to pay the price’.

However, recent Government amendments to the Building Safety Bill include some caveats, meaning many leaseholders could still have to pay life-changing sums for the remediation work.

A recent survey by the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign of more than 2,200 properties in buildings over 11 metres suggested that 64 per cent of leaseholders outside of London and 83 per cent of leaseholders in London will not be protected from all costs to fix non-cladding fire safety defects.

The item includes a photo of Ed Davey addressing the rally outside Parliament earlier this week and two further ones of London Assembly member Hina Bokhari with protesters. Hina is quoted at length:

There needs to be Government responsibility on the issue of leasehold. It needs to do an umbrella approach on this.

We have learnt as the years have gone on that it is not just about cladding. There are so many issues with leaseholders and unless they deal with it properly, it is never going to end.

There needs to be a more serious approach to this. Gove needs to focus on leasehold issues only as it is a massive issue in itself. It has to be done properly. It cannot be a piecemeal approach as there are too many victims.

Leaseholders feel trapped, it is horrible for them and the pressure on them is constant.

The Lords had proposed changes to the Bill which would have protected all but the most wealthy leaseholders, but these were then rejected by the Commons. The Bill is still going through the ping-pong stage so there is still some hope that the legislation will be amended.

For full details of the progress of the Bill see the Daily Mail article (I never thought I would write that …)

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  • Brad Barrows 23rd Apr '22 - 11:18am

    While I have sympathy for anyone facing huge, unexpected bills, I do think it is simplistic to argue that leaseholders should not have to pay for the costs of necessary work due to them being “blameless”. The issue is not whether leaseholders are “blameless” but rather whether someone else is to blame. If someone else is responsible, be that central government, a local authority or a private company, then they are the ones who should pay – if not, then it does fall on either the leaseholder or ultimate owner (or both).

  • Laurence Cox 23rd Apr '22 - 12:22pm

    @Brad Barrows

    I don’t think that there is any doubt about who is to blame for the inflammable cladding. The companies manufacturing it falsely represented it as non-inflammable. Whilst Government Agencies and Councils failed to detect this, the issue is still simply one of product liability and the companies should pay. The real danger comes when the result of the companies paying is to bankrupt them and at that point the Government has to step in to fund the remaining cost of replacing the cladding with non-inflammable cladding.

    Last autumn, the play “Value Engineering” was performed at the Tabernacle, Notting Hill and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre using only the words from Phase 2 of the Grenfell Inquiry and this made it very clear to the audience where the blame lay.

  • Brad Barrows 23rd Apr '22 - 4:16pm

    @Lawrence Cox
    Thanks for the information. If companies have deliberately falsified test results to obtain kite marks and thereafter contracts, I would expect criminal prosecutions. Any reason whether any prosecutions have happened or are in the pipeline?

  • Nonconformistradical 23rd Apr '22 - 4:20pm

    “the issue is still simply one of product liability and the companies should pay”

    Product liability insurance isn’t mandatory (inlike motor insurance and employers liability).

    Is there a case for making it mandatory?

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