Solicitors have warned that the government’s reluctance to intervene fully in the cladding scandal created by the Grenfell Tower fire and help all the leaseholders caught up in the debacle is beginning to cause major problems in the housing market.
The Society of Licensed Conveyancers (SLC) is worried that the growing costs of replacing cladding and paying for waking watches will soon bankrupt thousands of leaseholders.
Rishi Sunak announced a £1 billion fund to help pay for cladding remediation on private tower blocks but, despite this, many experts and campaigners have said it is ‘too little, to late’.
SLC board member John Clay (pictured) says the government cannot rely on building owners to shoulder the cost and that Ministers must step in to act now before it is too late.
“The consequences of not doing so will create a major problem in the housing market with thousands of first time buyers being deprived of properties to buy as there are so many flats now unsaleable, and the current owners unable to move up the housing ladder,” he says.
“The Government has repeatedly stated that building owners should pay, but so far there are no signs that they will.”
Clay also says that the looming Fire Safety Bill, which is due to receive Royal Assent any day, is likely to make matters even worse for leaseholders because it puts the initial financial onus on building owners which, he says, makes no sense.
Even if building owners do pay for the remediation of unsafe cladding, the bill enables owners to recoup the costs from leaseholders. This will push many more leaseholder into bankcruptcy and render their homes unsaleable.
The SLC has written to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State at MHCLG, setting out in more detail the Society’s concerns and why Government intervention is necessary.
Read our recent guest blog: Why has the government been so slow to tackle the cladding scandal.