Cladding-hit flat owners say developers will delay repair works to avoid paying out

Cladding-hit flat owners speak out against the Government’s latest announcement, saying developers will delay repair works to avoid paying out

  • Government says it has reached an agreement on dangerous buildings 
  • It says the industry will contribute £5bn to address the building safety scandal
  • Leaseholders welcomed the announcement but said it doesn’t go far enough 

Cladding-hit flat owners have responded to the Government’s latest announcement about the funding of dangerous buildings.

The Government announced yesterday that it has reached an agreement with the industry that will see it contribute £5billion to address the building safety scandal.

It said that developers will commit a minimum of £2billion to fix unsafe buildings, with the industry also paying £3billion through an expansion to the Building Safety Levy.

The Government has announced that it has reached an agreement with the industry that will see it contribute £5billion to address the building safety scandal

The agreement sees 35 of the biggest builders in the country pledging to fix all buildings above 11 metres that they helped to build in the past 30 years.

The Government is also insisting that it will introduce new powers that allow enforcement on any remaining companies that fail to sign up, as well as those that breach the agreement they have signed up to.

But leaseholders and campaigners said that without any deadlines being set for the work to be carried out, it was likely that some developers would simply avoid paying out by dragging their heels on the repair works.

Flat owner Reece Lipman said: ‘I’ve just read the government announcement regarding developers and I still don’t believe it means anything for the vast majority of flat owners, including myself.

‘My developer are not on the list, so, despite our building being between 11 and 18 metres, I am left still not knowing how our building will be fixed.

‘The fact that it is a ‘pledge’ means it is an easy get out of jail free card for all the developers that did sign up. This should be a law that the government are enforcing, not a pledge that can be buried and put off.

‘This is yet more obfuscation from the government, kicking the can down the road again and still not addressing the fundamental issue that millions of us are trapped in unsafe homes and unable to move, with no fixed timeline as to when we can get out and away from this mess. We are still talking in years and not months.

‘I have no idea what is going to happen to our building, It just keeps feeling like 1 step forward and 2 steps backwards. I’m exhausted and yet have no option but to keep fighting.’

Since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, concerns about cladding have become a national issue

Since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, concerns about cladding have become a national issue

Meanwhile, leaseholder and campaigner at End Our Cladding Scandal, Paul-Reza Afshar. said he was initially ‘relieved’ by the announcement, but added that he isn’t so sure now that he has looked at the detail.

What is included in the agreement? 

The detailed agreement confirms developers will:

• Act as quickly as possible to fix buildings 

• Implement new proportionate guidance on building safety 

• Regularly report to leaseholders and government on their progress 

• Respect an independent dispute resolution process established by government

• Refund money already received from the taxpayer to fix their buildings

He said: ‘I was relieved when Michael Gove announced leaseholders like me wouldn’t have to pay for cladding but now I’m not so sure. The developer who built my block is not one of the companies signed up and we’re unsure whether they ever will be.

‘My neighbours with young kids and I are now stuck in an orphaned building and dread the day a demand to pay lands on our doorstep for tens of thousands of pounds. Today’s announcement just means more sleepless nights for me.’

And flat owner John Burns said: ‘The announcement totally ignores buildings under 11 metres. Gove says these buildings are safe. He needs to get RICS, lenders and insurers to agree.’

Liam Spender, a trustee of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, and a senior associate at Velitor Law, said that the announcement is a welcome step forward. 

However, he added: ‘This may only be the end of the beginning.

‘We will need to see the detail of how this is all going to be supervised and carried out, building by building.

‘While those details are worked out, unfortunately people will have to continue to pay for waking watches and increased insurance premiums, which is not money they are going to get back, even with this latest announcement. We need to see action quickly.

In the announcement, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove suggested that the agreement marked a ‘significant step towards protecting innocent leaseholders’ and ensuring those responsible pay to ‘solve the crisis they helped to cause’.

He said: ‘I welcome the move by many of the largest developers to do the right thing.

‘But this is just the beginning. We will do whatever it takes to hold industry to account, and under our new measures there will be nowhere to hide.’

• The list of developers who have signed up is available here 

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