Industry call for government action on cladding

Following new evidence that the scale of the cladding crisis may affect up to half a million people, cladding campaigners, residents, property managers and the UK’s largest freeholders have formed a coalition to request a multi-billion pound fund to remediate unsafe buildings. 

In an open letter to the new Chancellor, the group has called on the government to step in following failures in the building safety regime that have “dated back decades”.

The group believe that without support, leaseholders may be left having to pay the price, which is likely to run into the billions.

The Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) has conducted an analysis of apartment buildings in the UK and found that over half a million people may be living in unsafe buildings that passed building control when they were built.

Materials now deemed to be unsafe include High Pressure Laminate (HPL) which has been found to be at least as flammable as the ACM cladding that was used on Grenfell Tower, but the government’s existing fund is limited to ACM cladding.

The freeholder signatories are coordinating remediation work on buildings with ACM cladding in every major city in the UK, but the process has revealed numerous additional safety issues and there are concerns that the cost of fixing these problems will fall on to residents unless the government steps in.

Given the scale of the task the group is calling for a multi-billion pound, government-backed fund to be established so that these buildings can be made safe as soon as possible.

Nigel Glen, chief executive officer at ARMA, said: “The Grenfell tragedy highlighted the dangers of ACM cladding, but it has also revealed a much wider building safety crisis which could affect over half a million people.

“These buildings are being fixed by building owners and managing agents as quickly as possible but, without government support, the process could take decades and leave leaseholders with life-changing bills on top of the anxiety that has already been caused.”

Martin Boyd from Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, added: “Nearly 1,000 days after the Grenfell tragedy there is a huge amount of worry among leaseholders that the problems are getting worse, not better.

“The government must help find solutions rather than just telling everyone these are complex problems.”

This follows the Secretary of State announcing that £200m would be made available to remove and replace unsafe cladding from around 170 privately owned high-rise buildings on 9 May 2019.

 Responsible entities, most commonly the freeholder, are tasked with applying to the fund in order to cover the cost of remediation work.

If non-ACM remediation work is required, or if the building is less than 18 metres high, the responsible entities will often pursue claims with the original developer or through a buildings defect insurance claim (such as NHBC).

In the absence of such claims, the cost legally falls to the leaseholders.

This has been widely regarded as unfair by many, including by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee.

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