Dangerous cladding freeholders arguments?

by Readers Question

12:27 PM, 9th May 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Dangerous cladding freeholders arguments?

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Dangerous cladding freeholders arguments?

I am reading but still failing to understand the arguments presented by the private owners of approximately 170 dangerously clad buildings are that means others are responsible for fixing the problem.

This resulting in James Brokenshire announcing this morning that £200m of public money will be spent to prevent another tragedy.

With the personal back drop that flats near me have to have repairs to a roof carried out which has resulted in a hike of the management fees. These are flats that, as they are turned over, doubling clauses are introduced.

It seems unlikely that any potential leaseholder in one of these privately owned tower blocks would have taken on a property if, front and centre in the advice given on the road purchase, the words ‘ and by the way, you and your fellow lease holders are entirely responsible to pay for everything … and also pay the ground rent.’

What are the generic responsibilities of the owner of the freehold?

The only argument presented by a private owner that I can conceive of, reduced to it’s most basic, is … we had cladding put on in good faith to improve the quality of living for our tenants and it’s not our fault that the building industry and legislation failed us.

What are the arguments being presented by the owners of these 170 buildings that demonstrate they are absolved of any financial responsibility?

I’m just trying to understand.

Links to articles would be good.

Thanks

Hamish



Comments

Darren Peters

8:26 AM, 10th May 2019
About 2 weeks ago

I don't know the detail but there might be an argument against the cladding supplier that they knowingly supplied a material not fit for purpose. Or that the fire rating standards applied by the govt and adhered to by the cladding company might be inadequate. It might be that someone influential knew this stuff was not fit fit for purpose but didn't care or let sleeping dogs lie when they found out and that paying out £200 million is the lesser evil compared to a scandal unfolding.

SimonR

10:25 AM, 10th May 2019
About 2 weeks ago

As I understand it the Government at the time were warned that these materials were unsuitable and that the current building regs around them was inadequate but the government did nothing.

Then Grenfell happened, the current government is taking a lot of flack over this and coupled with the Brexit circus are just trying to garner favour with the electorate, that's not to say action isn't required it is but at whose cost, the tax payers it would seem.

Ian Narbeth

10:44 AM, 10th May 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Hamish
You write: "It seems unlikely that any potential leaseholder in one of these privately owned tower blocks would have taken on a property if, front and centre in the advice given on the road purchase, the words ‘ and by the way, you and your fellow lease holders are entirely responsible to pay for everything … and also pay the ground rent.’"

There may be something lacking in the public's knowledge of leasehold tenure but that is EXACTLY how almost all private residential leasehold (by which I mean long leases at a low or a peppercorn rent granted to owner/occupiers or investors) works. The developer does not agree that for the next 125 years or perhaps 999 years he will pick up the bill for unexpected or unusually large maintenance, repairs and renovation. The leaseholders who have the valuable interest in the building have to do so in the same way as the owner of a house is responsible for his own repairs.

I have every sympathy for people who find themselves in one of these blocks with ACL cladding. But the cladding was passed by Building Control, NHBC and others and the risks were not realised at the time. Analogies are always open to criticism, but in the 20th century asbestos and high alumina cement were at one time seen as really suitable building materials. Now we know differently.
Life is not always fair and sometimes in law a loss has to lie where it falls. Trying to blame others or to expect a company with an asset worth a few thousand pounds to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to fix a problem it is not legally responsible for is often a waste of time and energy. The taxpayer is stepping in with £200 million. Owners of flats in high-rise blocks with ACL cladding should be grateful.

Ian Narbeth

10:50 AM, 10th May 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by SimonR at 10/05/2019 - 10:25SimonR, we need to await the outcome of the Grenfell enquiry but I think you are using the benefit of hindsight. If every time "the Government" (do you mean any one of the civil servants?) were warned (by whom?) that there was a problem with something, they stopped it being used or prohibited people from doing that thing until it was investigated, the country would come to a halt.

SimonR

11:05 AM, 10th May 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 10/05/2019 - 10:50
Ian, I sadly cant remember who the person was that highlighted the risk of ACL. He was interviewed on LBC radio earlier this week and it was a point made by him, I should have made that clearer in my earlier post.

moneymanager

9:30 AM, 11th May 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Darren Peters at 10/05/2019 - 08:26
Compared to other scandals that haven't yet "unfolded" £200 mill is like petty cash.

moneymanager

9:32 AM, 11th May 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 10/05/2019 - 10:50
Fire safety used to be the responsibility of the Fire Brigade to enforce, deregulation placed that onus on property owners, was that a good idea?

Gracie

12:12 PM, 11th May 2019
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by SimonR at 10/05/2019 - 10:25
That's interesting, I'd love to know who warned the government / whoever, it's ridiculous that they don't take heed of something until it becomes a danger or a big stink. Bad advice & shoddy workmanship is never dealt with properly anymore, everyone has a get out clause to protect themselves for a crap job which they are supposedly educated and paid to do, without any accountability when they fail.
I feel for the leaseholders, they're just expected to take the hit of everything "because the contract says so" without any liability for shoddy work falling to the so called experts who were entrusted to build / repair. This feudal contract devised for peasants hundreds of years ago needs demolishing, just as other ridiculous laws have been. The applicable people and companies need to be held accountable.

Michael Barnes

17:46 PM, 11th May 2019
About 2 weeks ago

I think that the Government has realised that when the cladding was installed it was legal and there is the general principle that legislation is not retrospective, and so the only way to get something done is to put money in.

Interestingly the announcement is that it will be fully funded, and £200 million is available for 167 blocks, but Nearly Legal has a blog that says 3 blocks they know of will cost 10% of that. That suggests that the cost is likely to be nearer £1,000 million.

John B

15:30 PM, 18th May 2019
About 7 days ago

This is an interesting discussion which is currently heavily in the press with the press covering virtually anything Similar.

I have founds something I think most leaseholder can align with also.

Not all the cladding in new buildings is ACM, in fact most of it is actually other materials particularly below 18mtr.

In the past these material were fine, now we have a drive toward replacing all cladding with A0 materials ie brick, stone etc. This is in a lot of cases unnecessary but is pushed by a press initiative also the cladding industry has jumped on the band wagon as they see more possible income by replacement.
I have even come across an FRA that is so inaccurate it couldn’t even work out the number of units in building or the construction, but decided to condemn the cladding!
This has a lot to do with vociferous freeholders with right to manage a new and big income steam.

We must all bare in mind that the building would have an individual BC certificate of each unit and these would have covered the cladding, in the above case the BC was LABC.

Just because an FRA says the cladding must go, get a second opinion I would suggest reputable firms such as Arup and WSP .


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