Thank you to all those that have contacted me about the Building Safety Bill.
I have long supported calls for leaseholders to be protected from the costs of remediating all historical cladding and non-cladding defects, irrespective of circumstance. I believe that at its earlier stages, the Building Safety Bill fell significantly short of the action needed to protect leaseholders, but I am pleased Ministers are finally making some progress.
I share your concerns about the way the Bill was changed, with little time for amendments to be scrutinised, but I want to see a version of this Bill become law as soon as possible and I believe we should focus on addressing its most obvious defects.
Under Government proposals, leaseholders are still expected to pay for non-cladding costs if developers cannot be traced and freeholders are unable to pay. Leaseholder contributions are set to be capped at £15,000 for homes in London and £10,000 for homes elsewhere, but I believe these are significant sums for them to resolve problems they played no part in causing.
In addition, leaseholders in buildings under 11 metres are not provided with the same legal protections as those in mid and high-rise buildings, as I believe they should be. In my view, 11 metres is an arbitrary threshold and an unsound basis for determining which leaseholders are protected.
The Bill was amended in the House of Lords to address these issues, with legal protections extended to leaseholders living in buildings under 11 metres and contributions reduced to zero. While I supported these amendments in the House of Commons on 20 April, I am disappointed Government MPs voted to overturn them.
Meanwhile, the Bill still does nothing to provide redress for leaseholders who have already paid. I urge Ministers to consider how those leaseholders can be provided with retrospective financial redress.
The Government must also clarify what will happen in cases where there is no clear party that can pay and where capped leaseholder contributions are not enough. I have real concerns that remediation works on such buildings will simply never get done and I urge Ministers to provide grant funding for this.
The Bill has returned to the House of Lords for consideration of Commons amendments before it becomes law.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this issue.