MPs have passed a Labour motion which aims to protect leaseholders who are stuck in the middle of the ever-expanding cladding scandal, but all Boris has to say is that his government will outline its plans for addressing the issue ‘very shortly’.
Ever since the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017, leasehold owners of high rise flats up and down the country have been stuck in a nightmare. Due to new laws, all flats must be awarded a clean fire safety certificate following a specialist inspection in order for them to be considered safe to live in. Without such certification, flats are now worthless on the open market.
Furthermore, the owners of flats which are found to have unsafe cladding are being left with bills for tens-of-thousands of pounds to replace the cladding as building owners, freeholders, and a large swathe of insurance providers are saying it’s simply not their problem.
Not only is the government acting slowly in addressing the problem, but it’s also feared that, when it finally does react, it will take the form of a ‘cladding tax’ which campaigners say will do little to help those in need, instead saddling leaseholders with what is essentially a second mortgage.
Labour Motion Passed, Torys Abstain
Earlier this week, the House of Commons passed a Labour motion calling for the government to protect leaseholders who are currently living with unsafe cladding. The motion passed with 263 MPs voting For, and none voting Against. It’s worth noting, however, that all Tory MPs chose to abstain from the vote.
The motion calls on the government to establish the true extent of unsafe cladding, prioritise buildings according to risk, provide sufficient upfront funding for cladding removal/replacement, and protect both leaseholders and taxpayers from the blinding cost of this project up and down the country.
To date, the government has offered “£600m to fund the remediation of aluminium composite material cladding and a further £1bn for cladding of other types”. Sadly, this pledge is enough to cover just a fraction of the buildings affected by unsafe cladding in the UK and does not take into account other defects which are unrelated to cladding but are now believed to be prevalent in many tall buildings.
Speaking to MPs earlier this week, Shadow Housing Secretary, Thangam Debbonaire, said:
“All big players in this crisis have spent the last few years pointing fingers and avoiding responsibility. The government has called on building owners to ‘do the right thing’.
“There is nothing to prevent building owners from passing costs on to leaseholders, and in many cases, they have a fiduciary duty to do so. Leaseholders simply can’t afford it and shouldn’t have to.”
The debate continues and we will bring you more updates as the story unfolds.