Ministers have sought to help people trapped in apartments they cannot sell or remortgage by amending advice on fire safety documents for low-rise buildings, though Labor and tenant groups have warned the plan was too vague.
In a statement released alongside a debate in the House of Commons on the Building Safety Bill, which aims to address the safety and regulatory repercussions of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in London, the Housing and Communities Department announced the change.
Following expert advice from a group led by Dame Judith Hackitt, which reviewed building regulations after the Grenfell disaster, people living in blocks less than 18 meters in height will no longer be advised. ‘have a study of the exterior walls, or an EWS1 certificate, before selling their apartments, which is the norm since Grenfell.
Many people looking to sell or remortgage have discovered that their building has no SAP1, a document that certifies that a block construction is free from combustible materials. Some tenants were forced to embark on extensive repair work to obtain the certificate.
The new guidelines aren’t mandatory because EWS1 certificates aren’t government-regulated, but the strict guidelines to mortgage lenders that certificates aren’t necessary are meant to iron out what officials call the unintended consequences of post-counseling. Grenfell.
The Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government says there is no systemic risk of fire in these low-rise buildings and that work can be limited to less expensive measures such as the installation of alarms or sprinklers, rather than coating removal.
But Labor and pressure groups have warned that it remains to be seen whether the announcement will make a significant difference.
Lucy Powell, the shadow housing secretary, said: After previous announcements on EWS have totally failed to help residents, the limited information available in today’s announcement means we can’t tell if it will do a difference for tenants whose homes are unsaleable, uninsurable and non-mortgage.
The End Our Cladding Scandal group said it cautiously welcomed the announcement, but warned that mortgage lenders had not listened to similar advice in the past. A spokesperson said: At every moment the government has sought solace in the market, although it has been clear for years that the only body truly capable of dealing with vested interests in the lease industries, of construction and insurance, and to end this living nightmare, it is the government itself.
Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, described the new council as an important step forward for tenants who had had problems selling their homes.
Previously, ministers said that blocks less than 18 meters in height only needed an EWS1 check if they had certain types of pavement of particular concern, but the check had become the default check for most. buildings.
Stephen McPartland, the Conservative MP for Stevenage, who has regularly criticized the government for its response to the siding problem, told MPs during debate on the Building Safety Bill that Jenrick created a market failure with previous tips.
He said: [The change] could repair some of the damage it has caused, but this will need to be built into legislation to provide real and practical support to tenants, not just rhetoric. Without proper action, McPartland said, the change risked being nothing but weasel talk.
The MP also asked for information on the position of people in low-rise buildings who had to face large bills due to work made necessary by the EWS1 checks. Authorities hope that in many cases, if no work has started, tenants could be spared having to pay since the work is no longer needed.
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