Spotted on Twitter this morning: a ‘property lawyer’ tweeting that he didn’t know what all the fuss over cladding was about and that, as leaseholders are liable for repairs under their lease, they should be made to pay. Cut and dried he said. Except that it’s not.
Leaseholders, in the main, have no problem with the concept of paying for their building to be maintained via their service charge. They may baulk at price rises and even nickel and dime over which contractor should be selected for cleaning or gardening, but they accept the fairness of splitting the bill for something which benefits everyone living in the building. What they do object to - and rightly so - is being held liable to the tune of many thousands of pounds, for building defects of which they had no knowledge when they bought their home.
This point was made eloquently time and time again by MPs from both parties in the House of Commons yesterday as a Labour Party motion was debated, calling on the Government to set up a Cladding Taskforce to tackle the problem once and for all, and to guarantee funding so that leaseholders would no longer be faced with life-changing bills or even bankruptcy.
Labour MPs voted unanimously by 263 votes to 0 in favour of the motion, while the Conservatives in the House abstained. However, that doesn’t mean they disagree with the principle that leaseholders shouldn’t pay. In fact more than 30 Conservative MPs have signed up to an amendment to the fire safety bill which, if accepted, will prevent remediation costs being passed on to leaseholders.
Under pressure from MPs on both side of the House, the Government is now expected to announce a new multi-billion building safety package, with Housing Minister Christopher Pincher telling the debate yesterday that he would be “making a further announcement on this important work very shortly”.
So momentum is building in favour of leaseholders – at last. Relief for the many thousands of people affected, simply can’t come soon enough.
Author : Maryanne Bowring
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