Nearly four years on from the Grenfell tragedy, thousands of people still live in unsafe buildings with dangerous cladding.
Innocent leaseholders have spent the duration of lockdown trapped in flammable homes, paying colossal bills for repair work and hundreds of pounds per month on interim safety measures such as ‘waking watch’.
Much has been said in Parliament about who should pay to remove and replace the dangerous cladding. And this paper has covered the personal stories of many of those caught up in this cladding scandal across South London.
But much less has been said about who should pay for the interim costs, or temporary fire safety measures that must be installed while residents wait for the cladding repair work to be completed.
Despite repeated assurances from the Government that no leaseholder should have to pay, hundreds of leaseholders in Vauxhall are paying eye watering amounts every month for these temporary safety measures. And they have no choice. As soon as a building is assessed as being unsafe, residents are told that they must immediately introduce these additional measures or face an evacuation order from the fire brigade.
Government figures show that the average estimated cost of ‘waking watch’ patrols in London is £499 per affected household every single month. And alarm systems are not much cheaper, ranging between £50,000 and £150,000 depending on the building size.
These costs would be unaffordable for most people, but many of those affected are young first-time buyers whose dream of home ownership has turned into a nightmare.
They bought their homes in good faith, but now they are literally unsellable. With industry experts estimating that it will take between 5 and 15 years for all affected buildings to be remediated, the truth is that these costs are anything but temporary.
Leaseholders did not cause the cladding scandal, and yet they are paying the price while those responsible are not pursued in any meaningful way. The reality is that these interim costs are bankrupting my constituents and causing untold stress and unimaginable levels of debt. And still there is no light at the end of the tunnel and no certainty about when their homes will be safe.
That is why I led a debate in Parliament this week, to draw attention to the lack of action on interim costs, and to show the impact this is having on my constituents and by extension, innocent leaseholders up and down the country.
Only the Government has the power to fix this and ensure that all leaseholders are protected from these ruinous costs.
The Government agrees with me that no leaseholder should have to pay for problems caused by others. I will be holding them to account on their promise.
For constituents who have any urgent casework, please contact me at email@example.com
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