WATCH: Daisy Cooper call for greater help for “innocent leaseholders caught in living nightmare”

Daisy Cooper has devoted a huge amount of time to pushing the Government to doing more to help leaseholders who have been caught in an impossible situation since the Grenfell Tower fire which killed 72 people. They face massive bills for additional fire safety measures, including insulation, firebreaks, balcony safety as well as cladding and the Government is doing precious little to support them.

Yesterday she spoke to Sky News about this after a leaked letter from Michael Gove suggested that the Government might introduce a limited grant scheme for cladding replacement. She made clear that this was inadequate.

She is also quoted in an Evening Standard article on the subject.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Innocent leaseholders are still facing eye-watering bills to fix non-cladding fire safety defects, not of their making, and more defects may be discovered once cladding starts to come off.

“Anything short of putting new laws in place to make the developers pay for their shoddy and dangerous house-building is a betrayal of innocent leaseholders whose lives have been put on hold for four years already.”

She also called for a full public enquiry into the scandal:

The Conservative Government still has its head in the sand about the scale of this scandal and the nightmare that leaseholders are living.

I’m relieved that the government has seen sense on this aspect but many questions remain.

Leaseholders still need and deserve a public inquiry into the government’s handling of this crisis and why it has got it so wrong for so long.

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5 Comments

  • Brad Barrows 9th Jan '22 - 3:24pm

    This issue genuinely confuses me. If house-builders have not followed building regulations, then surely they should be the ones having to pay to rectify their own shortcomings. If the building regulations have changed and older houses now require to be upgraded, then the costs should fall on those who own the houses. Leaseholders own the houses but not the land they are built on (as I understand it) so they should still be responsible for upgrading if building regulations have changed since their houses were first built. So, I don’t understand why taxpayers should be taking responsibility for the costs being facing by people who chose to buy these properties, unless government failings were responsible for the fact they face these costs. Perhaps someone could explain what I am missing in this situation.

  • Nonconformistradical 9th Jan '22 - 5:16pm

    @Brad Barrows
    My understanding is that the building regulations were not that specific about what was required and that they have been tightened up since. So I assume some builders might have just taken the cheap (and nasty) route….?

    Surprise surprise. Lots of past situations where regulations have been tightened up after some disaster – not only disasters affecting human beings’ lives such as exterior cladding on blocks of flats but also others such as financial ones – remember how much ‘light touch banking regulation’ was being promoted?

  • James Fowler 9th Jan '22 - 7:32pm

    This issue is a disgrace, and I’m very glad to see Daisy Cooper campaigning on it. My understanding is as follows: After the Grenfell fire the issue of which buildings had what fire proof (or not) cladding on them suddenly became a huge concern. After years of slack policing of building regulations nobody knew where the problems lay, so insurance industry promptly took fright and massively over reacted. They deemed all sorts of high, and low, rise buildings unsafe and hence unsellable unless hugely expensive alterations were made. We now have a great game of ‘pass the bill’, which (in my view) should be shared between builders, freeholders, leaseholders and the taxpayer – certainly not just dumped on the leaseholders. However, another observation is that the whole scare is in itself as much an over-reaction as the previous negligent policing was an under-reaction. A classic case of a ‘solution’ being as bad the problem itself. In the meantime, the leaseholders have my sympathy.

  • Nonconformistradical 12th Jan '22 - 10:38pm

    Meanwhile…
    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jan/12/planners-set-to-approve-52-storey-london-tower-with-only-one-staircase
    “The Cuba Street tower, close to Canary Wharf, will have 655 bedrooms, with the highest close to 170 metres in the air – two-and-a-half times the height of Grenfell Tower.

    It features only a single staircase, which is allowed under building regulations if the strategy in a fire is to tell residents to stay put in their homes. All new apartment blocks above 11 metres must also be fitted with sprinklers.”

    I seem to recall residents of Grenfell were told to stay put……

  • James Fowler 9th Jan ’22 – 7:32pm:
    After years of slack policing of building regulations…

    More to do with the ‘choice’ of regulations…

    ‘Unravelling the real story behind the Grenfell tragedy should be tackled now, not in November’ [May 2018]:
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/27/unravelling-real-story-behind-grenfell-tragedy-should-tackled/

    This problem had first come to light after two previous tower-block fires in 1989 and 1999, when that inquiry led to the Building Research Establishment (BRE) producing a new British Standard, BS8414. This was to replace the existing “single burn” fire safety test, which only required each material involved in refurbishing tower blocks to be tested separately, with a new “whole system test”, to determine how they all acted together in combination.

    But in 2002 the EU had become so preoccupied with the need for better insulation of buildings, as a way of reducing CO2 emissions to combat global warming, that it issued a directive concerned only with maximum “thermal efficiency”. On fire safety it required only the dangerously inadequate “single burn test”.

    The British were still free to use their BS8414 test if they wished. But under EU law this could not be made mandatory and it was significantly more expensive. So, unsurprisingly, with thousands of tower blocks needing external refurbishment, councils went for the cheaper option.

    …the fact is that if the BRE’s BS8414 test had been properly applied – as subsequent demonstrations confirmed – that dreadful conflagration would never have happened.

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