Years after the Grenfell disaster, many buildings across the United Kingdom still have unsafe cladding attached to the front of them. While social housing providers have largely got on with the work to remove and replace, many other buildings have not had any work take place at all.
Indeed many leaseholders and flat pay for a ‘waking watch’ that is somebody to alert them if the building catches fire. The costs are high, it makes the homes impossible to sell on and while it does give some peace of mind, a safe building would be preferred!
Today the Government announced some positive changes to the situation. Hundreds of thousands of leaseholders will now be protected under five-point plan to bring these buildings up to good standard. With an unprecedented £5m in building safety the Housing Secetry confirmed that the Government will fully fun the cost of replacing unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in buildings 18 metres or higher (circa 6 storeys high). These are the buildings at highest risk of harm or death of the inhabitants should a fire occur due to the limited exits.
Lower buildings will also gain some new protection with a new scheme offered to buildings between 11 and 18 metes to pay for cladding removal through a Government financing agreement. This means the work can be carried out quickly but the leaseholder will be expected to pay something towards the changes. Under the scheme leaseholders will pay a maximum of £50 a month – the announcement though welcomed from a safety point of view, did go down like a cup of cold sick to the leaseholders who will be expected to continue paying (albeit less) to ensure they do not burn alive. That said, they will be able to sell their homes more easily!
In addition to this work the Government is working on ways to reduce the need for ESW1 forms and a new tax will be introduced for the residential property development sector to raise around £2bn to help pay for the cladding remediation costs. This did cause some grumbles but ultimately it was poor building and development practices which led to the issue.
Finally legislation is set to be tightened around building regulations to prevent any malpractice of this nature from arising again.
Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:
This is a comprehensive plan to remove unsafe cladding, support leaseholders, restore confidence to this part of the housing market and ensure this situation never arises again.
Our unprecedented intervention means the hundreds of thousands of leaseholders who live in higher-rise buildings will now pay nothing towards the cost of removing unsafe cladding.
Remedying the failures of building safety cannot just be a responsibility for taxpayers. That is why we will also be introducing a levy and tax on developers to contribute to righting the wrongs of the past.
These measures will provide certainty to residents and lenders, boosting the housing market, reinstating the value of properties and getting buying and selling homes back on track. We are working with lenders and surveyors to make this happen.
Our landmark intervention will make homes safer and free those who did the right thing – saving for years to get on the property ladder – to enjoy the homes in which they have invested so much.
So a good start, still plenty of work to be done but progress towards building safety, helping those leaseholders affected and preventing this kind of incident from occurring again are all good news.
The Five Point Plan:
1. Government will pay for the removal of unsafe cladding for leaseholders in all residential buildings 18 metres (6 storeys) and over in England
2. Generous finance scheme to provide reassurance for leaseholders in buildings between 11 and 18 metres (4 to 6 storeys), ensuring they never pay more than £50 a month for cladding removal
3. An industry levy and tax to ensure developers play their part
4. A world-class new safety regime to ensure a tragedy like Grenfell never happens again
5. Providing confidence to this part of the housing market including lenders and surveyors