After the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak’s announcement that £1 billion of public money will be put towards cladding mediation on property tower blocks, experts, including The Society of Licensed Conveyancers (SLC), have said it’s too little too, too late.
More damning still is the SLCs warning that the UK government’s failure to properly step in and address the cladding problem highlighted by the Grenfell Tower tragedy has laid the groundwork for a decade of major turmoil in the housing market.
The escalating cost of replacing dangerous cladding on buildings up and down the British Isles will, the SLC says, “soon bankrupt thousands of leaseholders”. Added to this cost is that of providing a so-called waking watch for highrise blocks of flats. A waking watch is a system whereby a trained professional patrols a building day and night in order to detect any fires and supervise evacuations when necessary.
The SLC says that the government’s reluctance to invest properly in correcting this long-endured scandal will “create a major problem in the housing market with thousands of first-time buyers being deprived of properties…as there are so many flats now unsaleable, and the current owners unable to move up the housing ladder”.
Speaking on behalf of the organisation, SLC board member, John Clay, says it’s unfair that building owners should be burdened with financing the whole process. Furthermore, despite the government suggesting owners should pay, Clay says there is no guarantee they will do so.
He said, “The Government has repeatedly stated that building owners should pay, but so far there are no signs that they will.”
A questionable Fire Safety Bill
On top of this, the SLC is also expressing concerns about the new Fire Safety Bill which is expected to pass into law at any moment, suggesting that it will only make matters worse for leaseholders by forcing building freeholders/owners to foot the expense of making the property safe.
The inevitable result of this? Freeholders/owners will have to pay to fix problems and thus inevitably recoup these expenses from the leaseholders. The Fire Safety BIll explicitly states that this is an agreeable course of action.
But the SLC disagrees, stating that these added costs may push many leaseholders into bankruptcy. One of many dire effects of this will be that they cannot sell their homes, all of which will be added to the growing list of homes that cannot be sold due to inadequate cladding safety checks.