We have previously reported about the struggles currently facing flat owners due to the new rules, restrictions, and guidelines concerning external cladding. Since the Grenfell disaster, the UK government implemented strict new measures to try and improve the safety of high-rise flats around the country.
As a direct result of this, many flats are now deemed worthless until they gain an official certification stating that the cladding is safe. This requires a formal inspection for which there is now a long waiting list.
If this inspection finds that the cladding is not safe, many building owners are refusing to pay for the necessary changes to be made. But without the changes, flats are worthless and owners cannot sell them.
In short, it’s a disaster.
Now, to make things worse for flat owners, the government is telling them not to speak to the press about their woes unless the government grants them permission to do so.
With strings attached
The stunning announcement comes after the government set up a £1.6bn fund last year to repair the most dangerous buildings, albeit warning that this was unlikely to be enough to cover all of the costs for unsafe cladding to be removed.
Those who apply for their share of the fund must sign an agreement in which they promise not to talk to the press about anything relating to the matter without first receiving approval from the government.
The agreement reads:
“The Applicant shall not make any communication to the press or any journalist or broadcaster regarding the Project or the Agreement (or the performance of it by any Party) without the prior written approval of Homes England and [the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.”
In response, The UK Cladding Action Group said it was “clearly a matter of public interest” that these issues were aired in public”, and that ”no department should be hiding behind non-disclosure agreements to stop scrutiny of their actions.”
Elsewhere, the agreement has been called ‘a gagging clause’, one that is ‘shocking but not surprising’.
The question remains open as to exactly why the government has made this decision and what their fears are. No doubt we will find out, and when we do, you’ll be the first to know.
If you have any cladding-related questions, our in-house property expert, Russell Quirk, is happy to help. Drop us a message in the comments section below, and he’ll get right back to you.