Angry leaseholders protest against footing cladding bill outside Parliament
Angry leaseholders and tenants have gathered outside Parliament to protest the Building Safety Bill which is being debated in the Commons today.
The Bill aims to fix cladding on taller buildings which have been deemed a major fire risk, following the Grenfell disaster in 2017, but has handed leaseholders the responsibility to fund the fixes.
One Bromley-based leaseholder, who described themselves as a “first time buyer shattered by the unfairness of the leasehold system”, wrote on Twitter that “homes, our finances, our hopes for the future, depend” on the protest.
In response to the demonstrations, a Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee spokesperson (DLUHC) said: “It is fundamentally unfair that innocent leaseholders should be landed with bills they cannot afford to fix for problems they did not cause.
“We are bringing forward far-reaching legal protections for leaseholders on building safety
“Those responsible for buildings that need remediation should foot the bill. The Building Safety Bill and our wide-ranging industry agreement will help to ensure that this happens.”
It comes amid concerns over time extensions to signing cladding pledges, as London housebuilder Telford Homes – which has a turnover of nearly £240m – waits to see if the government will give it more time to sign its pledge to fix the cladding in its tower blocks.
A DLUHC spokesperson added: “More than 35 of the largest housebuilders have agreed to undertake all necessary life-critical fire-safety work on 11m-plus buildings they had a role in developing or refurbishing over the past thirty years.
“This is the first phase of pledges, and those who fail to act promptly to fix the issues they caused will face commercial consequences.”
Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove last week agreed that developers will fork out at least £2bn from their own pocket to fix their buildings.
The industry will also pay up to a further £3bn through an expansion to the Building Safety Levy.
Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, Clive Betts, has urged Gove to ensure that landlords of social housing have “full access” to funds needed for safety remediations.
Betts, the Labour MP for Sheffield South East, has also called on Gove to confirm whether social landlords will have to abide by the levy.
“The whole industry must take collective responsibility for remediation funding… while some organisations may feel they are more innocent than others, no party in this crisis is more innocent than the leaseholders whom such funding is supposed to protect,” Betts wrote.
The chairman added that the Levelling Up committee is “disappointed” that trade body Construction Products Association has not made a public funding commitment.