I have long supported calls for leaseholders to be protected from the costs of remediating all historical cladding and non-cladding defects, irrespective of circumstance. I believe that at its earlier stages, the now Building Safety Act fell significantly short of the action needed to protect leaseholders, but I am pleased Ministers are finally making some progress.
I have repeatedly urged the Conservative Government to move further and faster to address building safety concerns and support those affected. Throughout the passage of the Fire Safety Act and the Building Safety Act, I supported Labour amendments to ensure remediation costs would not be passed onto leaseholders, but the Conservative Government rejected them on several occasions. I have also raised the issue of cladding and the Government’s slowness to act on several occasions in Parliamentary debate (you can watch me raise this here and here)
Please also find a link to a further question I made on this important issue here.
I welcome the Housing Secretary’s recent shift in tone, but I am concerned that the more I look at announced proposals, the less they stand up – the devil is indeed in the detail.
I share your concerns that leaseholders facing bills for non-cladding defects are being left out. A significant number of buildings have both cladding and non-cladding defects – and you cannot make a building half safe. Meanwhile, leaseholders in buildings under 11 metres still face ruinous remediation costs and there is much confusion around which leaseholders will be covered by any forthcoming legal protections.
The Act was amended in the House of Lords by to address these issues, with legal protections extended to leaseholders living in buildings under 11 metres and contributions reduced to zero. While I supported these amendments in the House of Commons on 20 April, I am disappointed Conservative Government MPs voted to overturn them.
I urge Ministers to provide legal protection for all leaseholders facing potential remediation costs for cladding and non-cladding defects, irrespective of circumstance. This must be delivered urgently and in a way that brings immediate protection, because there is currently nothing to prevent even more freeholders from passing on those costs.
I support calls for legislative changes to be backdated and for interim protections to be introduced, so no charges can be imposed for 12 months, for example. I believe Ministers must also consider how protections might be extended to cover other costs, such as surveys and assessments.
The Tory Government says it has no plans for financial redress for leaseholders who have already been issued with huge bills. I believe this is unjust and I urge Ministers to think again.
I am disappointed that despite promising to amend the Building Safety Act to protect leaseholders completely against remediation costs, Ministers failed to table amendments to that end. I nevertheless supported the Bill during its passage through the House of Commons, because I want recommendations from the Independent Review of Building Regulations to be implemented and a stronger safety regime to be put in place as soon as possible.
As a result, I asked the following questions to the Government:
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what estimate he has made of the number of leaseholders that are facing remediation costs for (a) non-compliant cladding and (b) non-cladding related building defects in (i) Slough, (ii) the South East and (iii) the UK. View the Government’s response here.
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether his Department plans to offer financial support to leaseholders of high-rise apartments facing remediation costs for non-cladding related building defects. View the Government’s response here.