UK MPs vote for fire safety costs to be passed onto leaseholders

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MPs have for the third time voted down amendments in the Fire Safety Bill that would prevent fire safety remediation works being passed onto leaseholders.

At a House of Commons debate on Wednesday, Liberal Democrat MP, Tim Farron said that the amendment would protect leaseholders and prevent them from being charged huge bills: “To make safe properties that are unsafe only because of the actions of developers and a lack of Government regulation. "  

However, the amendment was rejected with only 256 MPs backing the Lords amendment and 322 MPs voting to quash it.

MPs have voted down amendments in the Fire Safety Bill that would prevent fire safety remediation works being passed onto leaseholders. Photograph: Houses of Parliament /Geograph

Campaigning group End our Cladding Scandal commented in a statement: “Leaseholders simply cannot pay these huge costs,” and accused the government of gambling with lives as well as finances.

“Nearly four years after Grenfell and thousands of buildings across the UK are still covered with combustible materials and structurally unable to withstand fire. The fear of going bankrupt is nothing compared to the real and ongoing terror many of us experience at night, trying to sleep, hoping this nightmare will end one day," it said. 

The vote on 27 April was the third opportunity to include the amendment, which was originally put forward by Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith.

Speaking in the House of Lords on 20 April Dr Smith said that the government’s grant and loan schemes for residents to pay fire safety bills are “not even operational”. He said that residents could “within months, be handed very large bills”: “The result, I fear, will be bankruptcies, enormous mental health strains, and possibly worse.”

Housing Minister Christopher Pincher, who put forward the motion to disagree with Lords amendment, said he was concerned it would take too long to include. “The amendment would prevent the passing on of remediation costs, but it does not define what those costs are. That is a recipe for litigation and a recipe for delay.”

The Fire Safety Bill has now been sent for Royal Assent and is expected to become law imminently.


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