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Leasehold high-rise flats: who pays for fire safety work?

Published Wednesday, March 6, 2019

This paper considers the debate about who is responsible for paying for fire safety works on blocks of flats in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

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Following the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 the Government established a Building Safety Progamme with the aim of “ensuring that residents of high-rise residential buildings are safe, and feel safe from the risk of fire, now and in the future.” 

At 31 January 2019, 361 residential blocks and public buildings over 18 metres in England had been identified as having Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding, i.e. of the same or similar type to that applied to Grenfell Tower and are described as “unlikely to meet current Building Regulation guidance.” 

Remediation work is complex, and the associated costs are expected to be significant. The question of who is responsible for paying for remedial works has been described as “a legal quagmire” and is at the forefront of debates about how quickly the necessary work can be carried out and the financial implications for some residents, particularly those living in privately owned blocks.

The Government is making funding available to social landlords to meet the cost of tackling unsafe cladding in this sector. Regarding privately owned blocks, the Government has said: “we believe that the morally right thing to do is for landlords to not pass these costs onto leaseholders.”

Affected long leaseholders are best advised to seek professional legal advice and assistance. The Leasehold Advisory Service and the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership (LKP, which also acts as the secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on leasehold reform) are potential sources of advice. The LKP has a dedicated email address for cladding@leaseholdknowledge.com. The APPG was due to consider fire safety issues at its  meeting on 26 April 2018.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8244

Author: Wendy Wilson

Topics: Housing standards, Owner occupation, Social rented housing

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