Leaseholders saddled with vast repair bills in the wake of the Grenfell fire disaster have dismissed new rules to pursue rogue developers as a ‘lawyers’ get-rich-quick scheme’.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced yesterday that the period during which developers can face legal action over ‘shoddy workmanship’ was being lengthened from six to 15 years after construction.
But campaigners reacted sceptically, pointing out any legal action was likely to be protracted and hugely expensive.
The UK Cladding Action Group also warned that companies could have ceased to exist since completing the building.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced yesterday that the period during which developers can face legal action over ‘shoddy workmanship’ was being lengthened from six to 15 years after construction
The group added: ‘We don’t have money for litigation. This is a lawyers’ get-rich-quick scheme.’
Leaseholder Steph Pike said: ‘Litigation is extremely uncertain, expensive and takes years. What happens when leaseholders lose and are left in even more debt than before?’
Today, the Government will also announce a new regulator to oversee the safety of high-rise flats.
The Building Safety Regulator will be charged with ensuring that risks in new and existing blocks higher than 18m are resolved, the Housing Secretary will say.
The regulator will also be given powers to prosecute rule-breaking developers and take their properties off the market.
The announcements come as leaseholders face crippling repair bills of up to £150,000 to remove dangerous cladding following the Grenfell fire in 2017 which killed 72 people. The Government has created a £5billion fund to help them get it removed. But some freeholders have refused to take charge of repairs.
Mr Jenrick told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1: ‘It’s a very large sum of money to try to help those leaseholders. But it should be the builders and the developers who should be paying for this.
The announcements come as leaseholders face crippling repair bills of up to £150,000 to remove dangerous cladding following the Grenfell fire in 2017 which killed 72 people
‘It is not right that either the leaseholder or the taxpayer has to step up. We’re going to change the law retrospectively to give every homeowner 15 years in which to take action against the people who built their building if there’s shoddy workmanship. I wish we hadn’t reached this point, I wish more developers had paid up.’
He added the ‘lion’s share’ of buildings identified as fitted with dangerous cladding would qualify under the 15-year law. It will apply to those built from 2010.
Asked about progress on works, Mr Jenrick said 95 per cent of the 469 buildings identified with Grenfell-style cladding have had it removed or had workers on site.
However, thousands more buildings nationwide are covered with other forms of dangerous cladding and have yet to be fixed.
The £5billion fund – which experts have warned is around £10billion short – is only for buildings 18m and higher, meaning tens of thousands living in medium-rise properties will be excluded.
Bills for non-cladding defects, such as defective fire breaks, are also excluded from the fund.
The Daily Mail’s End the Cladding Scandal campaign is pushing for all homes to be made safe by June next year.