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Leaseholders: Removal of Dangerous Materials

Volume 653: debated on Monday 28 January 2019

5. What progress he has made in discussions with developers and freeholders on ensuring that leaseholders are not liable for the removal and replacement of dangerous building materials. (908833)

We have been clear that owners and developers should protect leaseholders from costs. As a result of our action to date, owners and developers have made a commitment to fund the cost of remediation, or have had a warrantee claim accepted, for 80 buildings so far.

Although that is indeed admirable for those leaseholders, my constituents in Premier House in Edgware are still being told by the freeholder of their building that they must pay for the removal of the dangerous cladding. That has resulted in thousands of pounds of costs for legal fees and safety measures, and it has rendered their properties unsaleable. Will the Minister assure me that the Government have a plan B for leaseholders who are held liable for costs? Will she advise me when my constituents can reasonably expect their situation to be resolved?

My hon. Friend will have to excuse me for speaking with my back to him.

My hon. Friend works tirelessly to support the residents of Premier House in Edgware on the removal of cladding. I understand that that case will be brought before a tribunal at the beginning of April. The Government have made it clear that we expect building owners in the private sector to protect leaseholders from remediation costs. A growing list of companies, including Barratt Developments, Mace Group and Legal & General, are doing the right thing and are taking responsibility, and I can announce that Aberdeen Asset Management and Fraser Property have also joined that list. I urge all other owners and developers to follow the lead of those companies. I will consider all other options if they do not do so.

The growing phenomenon of Ministers reading out great screeds that have been written is very undesirable. A pithy encapsulation of the argument is what the House wants to hear.

Last week, the Minister told me that the Department is keeping pressure on Ballymore Ltd, following the Secretary of State’s letter of 19 December, for which I am grateful. However, the leaseholders have now received an offer from Ballymore saying that the bill is £2.4 million for fire safety work. They can have half a million pounds off, but they must pay the rest. That offer is only open until 31 March. What more can the Department do to help my constituents? Time is clearly running out.

I am not reading from any notes, Mr Speaker.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that very useful information. If we can see the letter, we will take the matter forward.

20. The Housing Minister, in response to a debate on Wednesday 22 January, indicated that he had written to the owners and the developer of Northpoint in Bromley. It is exactly the same situation as that outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Dr Offord). Has the Minister yet had a response, and what assurance can be given to Bromley Council about the guidance should it use emergency remedial powers under the Housing Act 2004? (908849)

It is a pleasure to be able to face my hon. Friend; I apologise to hon. Members behind me.

The Secretary of State has written, and we are awaiting the outcome to that. As soon as we get a reply, we will be in touch directly with my hon. Friend.