LKP is organising the first forum for leaseholders in private blocks with ACM cladding. The event will take place in Parliament on the 18th July from 6pm to 8pm.
As well as hearing from the speakers the meeting will allow leaseholders from different sites with cladding problems and share theier experiences. It will also provide an opportunity to meet a number of MPs
This meeting is specifically for the private cladding blocks because, unlike those in the social sector, the vast bulk of these private blocks still face complete uncertainty regarding how the remedial works will be funded.
Attendance at the cladding forum
Unfortunately space for the event is limited so we will only have room for one delegate per private cladding site and will only be able to accept the first 50 delegates.
To apply to attend we would ask you to complete the attached form. The form asks you to provide certain details about your site and the role you hold in your residents’ group. The form will ask you to confirm whether you have been in contact with your local MP so we can verify your identity. Once this has been done we will send your formal invitation with details of the venue. You must bring this invitation with you to gain access to the meeting. If we run out of spaces we will write to let you know and will provide a copy of a report of the meeting on the LKP web site.
If for any reason your residents’ group has not been in contact with your MP it is vital that you do so immediately. Your MP cannot argue your case if they do not know you exist.
Latest developments in the government’s position on cladding, and the doubling of the number of private blocks believed to be affected
On 28th June 2018 the government announced that the number of known private blocks with at-risk cladding had increased dramatically. In May 2018 the government listed 138 private sector residential buildings likely not to meet current building regulation guidance. That number included hotels and student accommodation but the bulk were private residential buildings. In June 2018 the number suddenly more than doubled jumping to 297 private blocks with suspected defective cladding:
In the same announcement the government said:
“A follow-up industry roundtable next month so representatives can present their proposals on solutions to remove unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings without passing on the costs to leaseholders. In the meantime, MHCLG will continue to explore other routes for protecting leaseholders, such as supporting local authorities to take more targeted action to identify and remediate affected buildings and recovering costs from those responsible for ensuring the safety of buildings; and supporting leaseholder enfranchisement.”
This is a major change in the government’s stance which has previously only suggested that “building owners” have a “moral duty” to pay for the works.
LKP has never agreed with the view that the costs would or should somehow automatically pass to the “building owner”. In many cases the company that owns the freehold of these buildings, referred to by the government as the “building owner” only has a small investment in the building which entitles them to little more than the right to receive the ground rents.
Everyone accepts that the fault for this defective cladding cannot lie with the freeholder, or with the individual flat leaseholders. Responsibility must sit with either the developer, the insurer, the regulations, the testing regime or the cladding supplier.
The term “building owner” also oversimplifies. There are a number of buildings with a Residents Management Company in place where the RMC is responsible for maintaining the building, and where the “building owner” has no direct responsibility for maintaining the building. We have buildings where the developer went out of business after the block was completed and the leaseholders then became the “building owner” by default. We have Right To Manage companies where the leaseholders have chosen to take responsibility for maintaining the building themselves but could have no idea when they did so that there was a fundamental flaw in the building’s construction. We also have tripartite leases where a property manager is embedded in the lease with the responsibility to maintain the block but only via the monies they collect from the leaseholders through the service charges.
Even on the blocks where we have a simple landlord (building owner) tenant relationship, the liability for costs on almost all sites remains unclear. The leaseholders have limited ability to sue the cladding manufacturer. The leaseholders have little power in the ongoing negotiations between developers and their warranty providers. The leaseholders have little ability to intervene in any buildings insurance claim and limited ability to litigate against large multinational developers.