Fire Safety Bill: Commons vote leaves building owners facing huge costs to repair cladding

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On Wednesday evening, amendments to the Fire Safety Bill were defeated in a Commons vote, after the government were accused of moving too slow to tackle the problems discovered after the Grenfell fire. The result now leaves thousands of leaseholders facing significant costs, in some cases up to £100,000, to replace/repair defective cladding due to no fault of their own.

The Government has recently taken steps to address these costs through the provision of  a scheme for leaseholders in buildings over 18 metres, however this is only a partial solution, as no support is currently available for those leaseholders in buildings less than 11 meters tall and only loan support for those in buildings between 11 and 18 metres. Many social landlords also own properties in such buildings, having acquired them from developers or as part of affordable housing deals, and are also facing large contributions, which will impact on other new housing supply and investment in their properties.

A number of other proposed amendments to the bill were also defeated, including a requirement for annual checks of flat entrance doors in all blocks and other recommendations from the Grenfell Phase 1 inquiry.

The latest defeat reinforces the worry for leaseholders in blocks which have unsafe cladding, who purchased their homes in good faith and do not deserve to have to foot large costs to make their building safe.

We work with over 150 social landlords across the UK, many of whom have large portfolios of high-rise properties. The work that we are seeing is extremely positive, with corrective actions being taken on defective cladding for blocks that they own, and in many cases work is already complete. This demonstrates the responsibility these landlords take towards their residents.

Whilst many support the principle that all of the costs for remediating the remaining blocks cannot fall to the public purse, the government also cannot continue to leave leaseholders in such circumstances and we therefore call for the government to work with building owners to find fair and appropriate solutions to bring to an end this nightmare for affected leaseholders.

Pennington Choices can provide the expertise, resources and input to help building owners understand their current position and the implications of the Fire Safety Bill, the Building Safety Bill and help to plan strategies to address this. We can also help building owners develop and manage programmes of remedial work. Our various teams can provide a range of skills from fire risk assessments, fire strategy reviews, compliance health checks and project management/employee agent roles to develop pragmatic, cost effective solutions.

For more information on how we can help your organisation, or to have a chat about the bill or any areas of your fire safety compliance, do get in touch with our experts by emailing: asktheexperts@pennington.org.uk

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