Will the new Chancellor take steps to help leaseholders trapped in their flats by the cladding crisis?
As if residents living in blocks with flammable cladding don?t have enough to worry about, today it has emerged that rendered insulation is also being pegged as a major fire risk. While the second phase of the Grenfell inquiry continues, an estimated 20,000-plus households are still living in flats with dangerous cladding.
And now, new evidence is emerging that rendered insulation on blocks of flats could be an even bigger problem. David Westgate, group chief executive at Andrews Property Group, raised the alarm after tests were carried out at one of its blocks. ?We have just learned that a housing block in the South West has failed the necessary fire safety tests because of rendered insulation and are currently informing the residents?, he told Landlord Today.?Clearly this will be a source of huge distress to leaseholders and a cause of many issues, specifically securing mortgage finance and selling their homes,? he said.
As a result, Westgate is urging the Government to ensure that any additional funding they may announce in next week?s Budget to help beleaguered leaseholders trapped in unsafe blocks, applies to rendered insulation as well as cladding.
New Chancellor Rishi Sunak is already under pressure from the property industry and leaseholder campaign groups to do more to help residents. In February a letter was sent to the Chancellor, signed by stakeholders including property managers, freeholders and industry bodies, and 100 campaigners and politicians gathered outside the Houses of Parliament to demand that the government brings an end to the cladding scandal. The protests followed a meeting with Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick earlier in the month.
It is to be hoped that this new evidence that the fire safety issues affecting blocks around the country runs deeper than just the cladding, will reinforce the argument that more must be done. Leaseholders' hopes are now pinned on Rishi Sunak's first Budget - but will the Government act? Unfortunately, attention is now firmly fixed on dealing with the spread of the Coronavirus and so cladding may, once again, be pushed down the list of priorities.
Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
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