Building freeholders who refuse to fix unsafe and combustible cladding could face losing their property to a compulsory government purchase.
Housing minister Christopher Pincher (pictured) confirmed the government was open to all options, potentially including compulsory purchases, to solve the issue.
While government funds have been made available for public and privately-owned buildings to help with the removal of dangerous cladding, many property owners are refusing to engage in the process.
This can be particularly difficult to enforce where the building is owned through an offshore company.
Failing to deal with the cladding leaves residents vulnerable to the risk of fire disasters such as that at Grenfell, and also often means leaseholders are unable to sell their properties, leaving them stuck in their homes.
Pincher was responding to a written question from Conservative MP for Hendon Matthew Offord, who asked for an assessment “of the potential merits of using compulsory purchase orders on freeholders who refuse to engage in the removal of combustible cladding”.
Pincher replied: “The government’s focus has been to ensure that remediation of unsafe cladding happens as quickly as possible.
“We engage with local enforcement authorities, including local authorities and fire and rescue services, on the routes they assess would be most effective to ensure resident safety and support them to take action where remediation is yet to start on site.
“While we would not rule out any option, to date we have focussed on funding, provision of construction support and enforcement powers to increase the pace of remediation.”
Yesterday Mortgage Solutions reported that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is reviewing the External Wall Survey (EWS1) process it developed with lenders to assess whether buildings remain a fire safety risk.
Owain Thomas is features and contributing editor of Mortgage Solutions and editor of Specialist Lending Solutions.
He also has experience in the protection, pensions, workplace benefits and HR areas.
Owain has won two Headline Money Awards and the Protection Review’s Journalist of the Year award.