Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
As the Grenfell Tower Inquiry continues through its second phase of hearings examining the causes of the fire, leaseholders in unsafe homes can take little comfort in the Fire Safety Act 2021 made law last month.
In the midst of a crisis in building safety standards, defeat of the McPartland-Smith amendment in the House of Lords 242 votes to 153which sought to restrict the passing on of remediation costs to leaseholders now makes leaseholders legally and financially liable for remediation to make their homes safe. Despite Boris Johnson's pledge that "no leaseholder should have to pay for the unaffordable costs of fixing safety defects that they didn't cause", leaseholders must potentially fork out up to £100,000 each to meet new requirements. Exactly how much leaseholders will be expected to pay, or how they can secure funds to meet new legislative requirements, is only further frustrated by the new and frequently misleading EWS1 fire safety form which has seen some leaseholders pay out multiple times for duplicate forms.
So what are beleaguered flat owners to do now? For the small few high-rise buildings taller than 18 meters eligible for remediation the Building Safety Fund is a limited resource that fails to cover all the works required to make homes safe from fire risk including issues around compartmentation and fire door inspections that remain largely unaddressed. For the remainder, the Governments promised loan scheme for people living in blocks below six storeys has so far failed to materialise and the Bank of England has raised fears that the cladding scandal is now affecting property values so badly that it could tip the UK into another financial crisis. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government suggests that the forthcoming loan scheme is the right vehicle for dealing with remediation costs, yet this would form part of the delegated legislation enabled by the Building Safety Act which could take up to two years to pass into law. Key policymakers have also failed to address criticisms around the structure of the loan scheme itself, which could require leaseholders to pay up to 50 a month themselves to resolve fire safety issues that were not of their own making.
No one is holding their breath in the hope that this is on the top of the Governments agenda.This situation cannot possibly be allowed to continue. Each day leaseholders are facing unaffordable bills, rapidly escalating insurance premiums and unbearable stress associated with ESW1 maintenance costs and regular fire safety inspections.Something needs to happen and fast. But at the moment it is hard to see where the help that leaseholders so badly need might come from. At Ringley, we are working hard to help residents where we can. There are all kinds of problems around EWS1 forms and the Governments Building Safety Fund. But we want our leaseholders to know that we will continue to support you wherever possible to ensure your home is safe and brought up to standard.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
Strategic partnerships, holistic delivery/ opportunities, growth, value engineering, thought leadership
Ian Barber MD BTR Mobilisation & Leasing
Runs HQ & site lease-up teams. Drives rent pricing, mobilisation, marketing, happy residents!
Jon Curtis MRICS Head of Building Engineering
Chartered Building Surveyor. Lectures on EWS1 & building safety. Runs CapEx programmes.
Kate Robinson MIRPM MD Blocks/FM Management (London Region)
Master plan setup, ops and staffing and resident engagement. ISO45001 champion.
Lee Harle Partner Ringley Law
Plot conveyancing. Debt litigation. Group Company Secretary.
Anthony Kingdon MIRPM AssocRICS MD Blocks/FM Management (North Region)
Stakeholder engagement. Mixed tenure specialist. Budget management. Plant audit, PPM compliance.
Chris Georgalis MRICS Head of Commercial Valuation
Chartered Valuer. Rental valuations: retail, leisure. IRR modelling and valuations for secured lending. Compulsory purchase & rent reviews
Nichola Pughe MRICS Head of Residential Valuation
Chartered Valuer. Rental development & mixed use valuations, IRR modelling. Leasehold enfranchisement specialist
Libby Chen MSc Compliance Manager
Operational Plant & Equipment strategy PPM Compliance lead, Asset tagging Client major projects
Dipesh Parekh Director PlanetRent
Customer centric, vertically integrated PropTech/fin-tech solutions.
Leana Aristodemou MIRPM MARLA AssocRICS Strategic lead: ESG & Asset Business Plan delivery
Financial modelling, valuation analyst to support underwriting & fund reporting.
Natalie Birmingham Helpdesk Support Manager
Trainer & Helpdesk Manager: people, systems,contractors. ISO45001 supply chain accreditation.
Steve Norman Planning Director
Land due diligence (opportunities & constraints) Has contributed to a number of award winning schemes.