MPs reject Fire Safety Bill Amendment
MPs have rejected an amendment proposed by the House of Lords to protect leaseholders and tenants from footing the bill for fire safety work on buildings.
The amendment to the Fire Safety Bill that would stop leaseholders paying for fire safety remediation was voted down by MPs 322 to 253 on Monday night. It is the second time the amendment has been rejected in the House of Commons after the Lords voted to send the amendment back to MPs last week. This time the margin of defeat narrowed slightly, from 115 to 69.
The Minister for Housing, Christopher Pincher said the proposal was ’unworkable and impractical’ and would lead to further delays in making buildings safe. The Minister went on to state :
‘They would make the legislation less clear, and they do not reflect the complexity involved in apportioning liability for remedial defects…. Furthermore, the amendments do not reflect the complexity involved in apportioning liability for remedial defects. The Government have announced how they will distribute costs, including from developers and industry, through our upcoming levy and tax. A decision through this amendment to pass all these costs to the building owner would be overly simplistic and it could be counter-productive. It would be self-defeating if landlords, faced with remediation costs, simply walked away. Many could do that. They could activate an insolvency procedure and just walk away. That is not about protecting freeholders, but about protecting leaseholders.’Christopher Pincher, Minister for Housing
Labour said the government had broken its promises and “it is blameless people who will pay the price”.
Background to the Fire Safety Bill
The Fire Safety Bill was brought forward to strengthen regulations following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 which killed 72 people.
There has been an intense debate about who should pay for new fire prevention measures. A group of 30 Conservative backbenchers supporting a failed move in February to shield leaseholders from the costs. The government responded by announcing it was putting £3.5bn towards removing unsafe cladding from buildings more than 18m high. This was on top of £1.6bn for cladding removal announced last year.
It said flat owners in lower-rise blocks would be able to access loans to cover repair work and repayments would be capped at £50 a month.
The next stage for the Fire Safety Bill is Royal Assent. Also making it’s way through parliament is the Draft Building Safety Bill. This will bring further measures to improve the safety of buildings
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