Government must protect leaseholders from cladding costs, says Law Society
By Nicola Laver
Leaseholders victims of the hazardous cladding crisis should be financially protected from the costs of remediation, the Law Society has said
Leaseholders victims of the hazardous cladding crisis should be financially protected from the costs of remediation, the Law Society has said.
Solicitors are reportedly saying that transactions are stalling in the absence of a solution.
Following the devastating Grenfell fire in 2017, the public inquiry exposed the widespread use of dangerous cladding on buildings across England and Wales.
Thousands of tenants have now been billed large sums, up to £45,000 and more, by landlords and management companies to fund the cost of rectifying or removing the cladding.
Many tenants are trapped and unable to sell their homes, with some having been made bankrupt as a result.
Legally, buyers of defective homes cannot recover remedial costs from councils or building inspectors who gave approval for them to be occupied.
Law Society president David Greene commented: “Many properties built over the last twenty years are potentially dangerous as a result of unclear building regulations, poor building practices, defective materials and inadequate enforcement of the rules.”
He said where dangerous defects exist because of inadequate building regulations and or enforcement, and guarantee insurance does not cover the remediation cost, those costs “should not be allowed to fall on long leaseholders”.
He called on the government to support leaseholders who are faced with significant and unavoidable costs through no fault of their own, with no realistic recourse.
Greene added: “In other circumstances, where responsibility for the defects rests solely with developers, material suppliers or building contractors, the UK government must find a way of alleviating the financial burden on the home-owners, for example providing the funding upfront so that buildings can be made safe and then seeking recourse against those responsible at a later stage.”
The Society called on the government to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the expected remediation costs and ensure any costs to be borne by long leaseholders are kept to a minimum – “ideally zero”.
Any long leaseholders facing unavoidable costs because of building control failings should, said the Society, be entitled to government support.
Solicitors are, said Greene, reporting that “the absence of a forthcoming solution to this issue is causing sales and purchases to stall, which may cause significant disruption in the market and have knock on effects on consumers and the wider economy”.