Leaseholders should not pay a penny to put right faults that are not of their doing in order to make their homes safe, MPs have said in a report into building safety remediation.
The cross-party Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee issued a report in response to plans outlined in January by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove.
Mr Gove said in January that no leaseholder living in a block above 36ft (11m) high would have to pay for fixing dangerous problems.
The MPs said: “The Secretary of State said the Government would protect leaseholders from remediation costs, but too many leaseholders will fall through the cracks of the Government’s piecemeal measures”.
Their report recommends that a comprehensive building safety fund should be put in place to cover the costs of remediating all safety defects on any buildings of any height where the original “polluter” cannot be traced.
It said leaseholders should be compensated for costs already paid out, including for interim measures and for rises in insurance premiums.
All relevant parties who played a role in the building safety crisis should be required to contribute to funds for remediation, the committee said.
The report said the committee had heard evidence that non-cladding expenses represent at least half of total bills for building safety remediation, with one block facing £100,000 of non-cladding costs per flat.
A spotlight was cast on the use of flammable materials in the construction of high-rise buildings following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.
Many leaseholders have since been left facing potentially ruinous bills after discovering that cladding on their homes could be dangerous.
Clive Betts, chairman of the LUHC Committee, said: “Leaseholders should not be paying a penny to rectify faults not of their doing in order to make their homes safe.
“Nearly five years after the tragic Grenfell fire, it is shameful this situation is yet to be properly resolved.
“While we welcome Michael Gove’s commitment to fixing these issues, we are concerned there are gaps in the Secretary of State’s proposals which risk leaving leaseholders to pick up the bill.
“Leaseholders are no more to blame for non-cladding defects than they are for faulty cladding on homes they bought in good faith.
“The Government should bring forward a comprehensive building safety fund, or upgrade their existing funding plans, to ensure that the costs of remediating all building safety defects on buildings where the original ‘polluter’ cannot be traced are covered and that leaseholders are also compensated for costs they have already paid out.
“The Government should be looking beyond developers and manufacturers to contribute to the costs of fixing the building safety crisis.
“We recommend the Government identify all relevant parties who played a role in this crisis, such as product suppliers, installers, contractors and sub-contractors, and legally require them to pay towards fixing individual faults and ensure that they also contribute to collective funding for building safety remediation. Insurers should also be required to contribute to funds for remediation.
“The Government needs to stop pitting the building safety crisis against the housing crisis.
“Social renters shouldn’t be bearing the impact of putting building safety right – the Government needs to act to ensure the tenants of social housing are protected from the costs of remediation.
“Residents of social housing are currently paying the price through the diversion of funds from maintaining their homes and other vital services provided by housing associations and councils.
“The Government should also come forward with a cast-iron guarantee that the affordable homes programme is protected at its current level in the event that the Government fails in its bid to secure sufficient funds from industry.”
The committee also said it had heard from landlords who “find themselves outside of the scope of the protections, who invested in properties to support their children, to provide income after being made redundant, to help pay for the costs of caring for relatives, or to provide for their retirement, now facing bills they cannot afford”.
It said: “Leaseholders are no more to blame for non-cladding defects than they are for faulty cladding on homes they bought in good faith.
“Buy-to-let landlords are no more to blame than other leaseholders for historic building safety defects, and landing them with potentially unaffordable bills will only slow down or prevent works to make buildings safe.
“Leaseholders of buildings under 11 metres in height are no more to blame than other leaseholders.”
Commenting on the report, Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “We are delighted that the committee agrees with us.
“The Government’s decision to exclude buy-to-let landlords renting more than one property from its scheme is unfair and unacceptable.
“As the committee rightly notes, landlords are no more to blame than other leaseholders for historic building safety defects.”
A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: “We have scrapped the flawed loan scheme and delivered the most radical and far-reaching legal protections ever for leaseholders on building safety.
“Industry, not leaseholders, must pay to fix the problems they caused. We will consider the committee’s report carefully and respond in detail.
“However, asking taxpayers to pay more upfront instead of developers, and to cover costs for overseas property investors, would be entirely the wrong approach.”
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