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MP’s vote against an amendment made by the House of Lords to the Building Safety Bill, protecting leaseholders of properties under 11 metres from the potentially large costs of cladding remediation work.

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In a move to set out what defines a “relevant building”, the House of Lords proposed to remove the reference to buildings over 11 metres in height or five storeys meaning leaseholders of any self-contained building, or any self-contained part of a building, in England that includes two or more dwellings, (regardless of height or number of storeys) could be subject to the cost of expensive cladding remediation works.

MPs took to the vote, with 318 voting in favour of the government’s update, amending the House of Lords proposal, to apply only to buildings over 11 metres or five storeys in height (which meet the above criteria).

The minister of state for housing, Stuart Andrew MP, explained the move in parliament stating:

“The department is aware of a handful of low-rise buildings where freeholders have been commissioning such works and we are addressing such buildings on a case-by-case basis, but we must restore proportionality to the system.” 

“There is no systematic risk of fire with buildings below 11 metres. Low-rise buildings are therefore unlikely to need costly remediation to make them safe. Lower-cost mitigations such as fire alarms are likely to be far more appropriate and proportionate.” 

MP Stephen Doughty asked what advice would be given to leaseholders who felt they had been wrongfully charged for unnecessary works. 

Andrew replied: “Freeholders and landlords should not be commissioning costly remediation in buildings below 11 metres except in exceptional circumstances, which is where there is no more proportionate option available. They certainly should not be pointing to old EWS assessments to justify those costs. 

“Given the small number of buildings involved, a blanket legislative intervention bringing hundreds of thousands more buildings into scope to deal with an issue affecting just a handful of buildings would be entirely disproportionate.” 

The Bill is set to return to the Lords on Tuesday 26th April.

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