By Harry Scoffin
The mayor of London spoke up for the capital’s leaseholders last week with an intervention on the cladding scandal.
The London assembly member Andrew Dismore urged Sadiq Khan to pressure central government to show some flexibility over the rules for its ACM cladding fund.
Mr Dismore criticised the requirement that leaseholders in privately-owned Grenfell-style apartment blocks obtain the signatures of every single leaseholder in order to secure access to the £200 million set aside for remediation works.
The Labour member for Barnet and Camden suggested that it was logistically impossible for many cladding sites to obtain one hundred percent sign-off because of the prevalence of buy-to-let and overseas ownership in the capital:
“Are you aware that to access the private sector remediation fund for ACM cladding removal, every flat owner in a block has to give the government a ‘state aid’ declaration; and that with so many properties in blocks owned by non-resident leaseholders, including people living overseas, this is very difficult to achieve.”
His comments follow a recent BBC Radio 4 Your and Yours feature, which heard from a UK Action Cladding Group (UKCAG) spokesperson who railed against the expectations being put on leaseholders with the State Aid declaration form.
LKP’s Martin Boyd has also suggested that officials’ insistence on obtaining total support from leaseholders now, as opposed to aiming for 90 per cent support and chasing the remaining lessees only after the works have commenced, “seems to be delaying and frustrating the process”.
In the London Assembly, Mr Dismore asked Mr Khan to “lobby the government to remove this requirement to enable access to the fund more easily”.
The Labour mayor said that whilst sole responsibility lies with officials at MHCLG, he is “aware that collecting declarations from every leaseholder may be challenging”.
Mr Khan seemed to hold out hope for leaseholders in London racing against the clock to hit the December deadline:
“My team are working with the government to ensure State Aid rules are complied with in a pragmatic way that does not delay approving funding.”
This is not the first time Mr Khan has weighed in on leasehold issues, having launched a help website for London’s leaseholders in February because of dissatisfaction with government monopoly service LEASE.
In September, Mr Khan endorsed the cross-party Communities Select Committee report on the leasehold sector and pledged to continue making the case to government for “a move toward commonhold”.