Scanlans has joined forces with cladding campaigners, residents and property owners to form a coalition urging the government to establish a multi-billion pound emergency fund so buildings around the country can be made safe.
The group has issued an open letter to new Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling on the government to act over flammable cladding on buildings.
Research by the Association of Residential Managing Agents, of which Scanlans is a member, has conducted an analysis of apartment buildings in the UK and found that over 500,000 people may be living in unsafe blocks that passed building control when they were constructed.
Materials now deemed to be unsafe include High Pressure Laminate, which has been found to be at least as flammable as the ACM cladding that was used on Grenfell Tower. However, the government’s existing fund is limited to ACM cladding.
The new coalition includes ARMA, the Institute of Residential Property Management, UK Cladding Action Group and the British Property Federation as well as property managers, homeowners and building owners.
Its open letter states that, without support, leaseholders may be left having to pay the price, which is likely to run into billions.
Ian Magenis, a partner at Scanlans, said: “The fall-out from the Grenfell tragedy has proved to be a difficult time for property managers, directors and leaseholders.
“Leaseholders are faced with having to find many thousands of pounds to resolve a situation which is not of their making.
“Those wanting to sell are unable to do so whilst their properties are ‘blighted’ by the presence of cladding or other materials on their buildings which, according to the latest government guidance, is unsafe.
“Recourse to the original developers is difficult, and most blocks fall outside of building warranties.
“There are hundreds of blocks of apartments in a similar situation up and down the country, affecting many thousands of leaseholders.
“Unless the government decides to step in and offer assistance, it is the leaseholders who, under the terms of their leases, will have to fund the cost of the works.
“This has resulted in considerable pressure on property managers nationally, who have found themselves in the front line. Leaseholders want somebody to blame, and the property manager is first in the firing line, even though we are only trying to help.
“As responsible managing agents and members of the RICS and ARMA, we have done, and will continue to do, all we can to assist our management company clients during this difficult time.
“Solicitors and specialist fire consultants are involved and are playing their part, but the role of the managing agent as the primary interface with the leaseholders is particularly difficult and challenging.
“The situation is going to get worse, because many leaseholders won’t have the funds to pay their share of the costs and run the risk of legal action being taken.
“The government has provided a fund to help blocks with ACM cladding but not for those with other types of cladding, which is some cases is as flammable, if not more, than the ACM at Grenfell.
“The government needs to tackle this urgently.”
Here is the open letter in full:
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.