The Chalcots Estate where Camden Council has made a £130m claim against Rydon to replace the cladding (Image: Rydon)
Up to 500,000 people could be living in buildings with unsafe cladding, according to new research.
The Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA), which represents the largest property managers in the country, has conducted an analysis of apartment buildings across the UK and found that half a million people may be living in buildings that passed building control when they were built but would now be considered unsafe because of the presence of high pressure laminate (HPL) or aluminium composite (ACM) cladding.
The government has set aside funding for the replacement of ACM cladding but not HPL. Now resident groups have formed a coalition with managing agents and building owners to call on the new chancellor Rishi Sunak to establish a fund to make these homes safe ahead of the Budget on 11 March.
In an open letter to the Sunak, the group has called on the government to step in following failures in the building safety regime which it asserted stretched back decades. Without support, it warned, leaseholders may be left having to pay the price, which is likely to run into the billions.
Dr Nigel Glen, CEO for ARMA, said: “The Grenfell tragedy highlighted the dangers of ACM cladding, but it has also revealed a much wider building safety crisis which could affect over half a million people. These buildings are being fixed by building owners and managing agents as quickly as possible but, without government support, the process could take decades and leave leaseholders with life-changing bills on top of the anxiety that has already been caused.”
Martin Boyd of Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, said: “Nearly 1,000 days after the Grenfell tragedy there is a huge amount of worry among leaseholders that the problems are getting worse, not better. The government must help find solutions rather than just telling everyone these are complex problems.”
The open letter reads:
We the undersigned represent homeowners, property managers and building owners across the United Kingdom.
The Grenfell tragedy has uncovered one of the biggest safety crises in recent British history. Two and a half years on, people are still living in apartment buildings with dangerous cladding. Building safety policy, dating back decades and overseen by governments of all political colours, has failed in its totality.
Building owners and property managers are stepping in to fix these buildings and ensure the safety of residents. But, where the costs are not recoverable from the original developer, or through an insurance claim, the burden is falling on those who live in these buildings. Why should homeowners pay the price for such a systemic failure?
The Government deserves credit for funding Grenfell-style ACM cladding remediation, but the problem is much wider than this and that funding doesn’t go far enough. The list of unsafe materials and hidden safety defects that were never identified when these buildings were signed off, is growing by the day.
This new government now has a golden opportunity to right the wrongs of the past and rescue the hundreds of thousands of worried and vulnerable residents across the country.
On behalf of homeowners, building owners, and property managers, we are urgently calling the Government to establish a multibillion-pound emergency fund and work with industry to unblock the process and ensure the safety of residents up and down the country for generations to come.
Resident groups and professional/trade bodies
Association of Residential Managing Agents
British Property Federation (BPF)
Federation of Private Residents Association (FoPRA)
Institute of Residential Property Management
Leasehold Knowledge Partnership
UK Cladding Action Group (UKCAG)
Fexco Property Services
FirstPort Property Management Services
Rendall and Rittner
Residential Management Group
Scanlans Property Management
SDL Property Management
Freeholders and building owners
Consensus Business Group
Estates & Management
Simarc Property Management
Wallace Partnership Group