The middle of February brought with it what seems like a hastily put together cladding plan by Michael Gove and his Department for levelling up, housing and communities. Debates in the House of Lords begin tomorrow 21st February 2022, which sees the committee stage of the Building Safety Bill, where this plan will be discussed.
According to the government, these will be tough new measures, where the building industry and developers will be forced to pay for the removal of cladding, and to protect the residents from being charged the full costs of renovation. It is interesting that no reference to council authorities or town planners are made, considering they were the ones that rubber stamped the materials used in construction, and inspected the properties throughout the build. The government it seems, wishes to bypass any chance that councils will take some responsibility, which in turn would mean central government would need to admit that local councils, were simply following their policies and guidance.
According to Mr Gove:
‘It is time to bring this scandal to an end, protect leaseholders and see the industry work together to deliver a solution. These measures will stop building owners passing all costs on to leaseholders and make sure any repairs are proportionate and necessary for their safety.
All industry must play a part, instead of continuing to profit whilst hardworking families’ struggle. We cannot allow those who do not take building safety seriously, to build homes in the future, and for those not willing to play their part, they must face consequences. We will take action to keep homes safe and to protect existing leaseholders from paying the price for bad development.’
The new bill being considered, also has provisions for legal action against manufacturers who used defective products (up to 30 years ago) on residences that have retrospectively been found unfit for habitation.
Another clause includes suggestions that “no leaseholder living in their own home, or sub-letting in a building over 11m, will ever pay a penny for the removal of dangerous cladding”
If this part of the bill gets through intact, it will almost completely remove the type of invoices that some leaseholders are currently being sent to take down the cladding. There have been documented invoices of over €100,000 per home.
The government finish by saying “The proposals will see the industry pay to fix historical problems, freeing hundreds of thousands of innocent leaseholders from shouldering an unfair financial burden while also enforcing a common-sense approach to avoid unnecessary work”.