Victory for cladding victims as Lords vote to protect leaseholders from crippling safety costs
- It means Boris Johnson faces a fresh rebellion against his plans to resolve crisis
- More than 30 Tory MPs are threatening to rebel over a ‘betrayal’ of leaseholders
- Tory MP Stephen McPartland, a vocal critic, said Lords’ vote was ‘brilliant news’
Ministers suffered a damaging defeat yesterday as peers voted to protect leaseholders from the crippling costs of the cladding and building safety scandal.
It means Boris Johnson faces a fresh rebellion against his plans to resolve the crisis, which would see the vast majority of families living in fire-trap flats barred from crucial funds.
More than 30 Tory MPs are threatening to rebel over a ‘betrayal’ of hundreds of thousands of leaseholders.
Tory MP Stephen McPartland, a vocal critic, said the Lords’ vote was ‘brilliant news’.
Ministers suffered a damaging defeat yesterday as peers voted to protect leaseholders from the crippling costs of the cladding and building safety scandal. Pictured: Royal Artillery Quays in London, whose residents have criticised the Fire Safety Bill
The Government has set aside £5billion to fix dangerous cladding in high-rise blocks.
But leaseholders in buildings below 18 metres (60ft) face bills of £600 a year for repairs while there is still no support for families facing average costs of £25,600 to pay for non-cladding related defects, such as missing fire breaks.
The Fire Safety Bill currently allows building owners to pass on average repair bills of £50,000 to leaseholders. But peers passed an amendment by 326 votes to 248 to stop this happening.
The Bishop of St Albans, Alan Smith, who tabled the amendment, said the Government’s approach was ‘morally wrong’.
He added: ‘Leaseholders are the innocent party – they purchased their properties in good faith, believing them to be safe.
‘And if this Bill passes unamended, it is they who will pay. Not the cladding providers, not the developers, but hard-working, ordinary people.’
The Grenfell Tower, which caught fire in 2017 in a disaster that killed 72 people
Ministers were accused of a ‘cop out’ last month after denying MPs the chance to vote on a similar amendment.
But yesterday’s defeat means the Bill will return to the Commons and a vote will be held.
Fire minister Lord Greenhalgh acknowledged the anguish of leaseholders but said further amendments would delay strengthening rules in England in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster which killed 72 people in west London in 2017.
Property lawyers wrote to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick on Tuesday urging him to make building owners pay to end the crisis.
John Clay, of the Society of Licensed Conveyancers, said not doing so ‘will create a major problem in the housing market’ as thousands of flats were rendered ‘unsaleable’.
The Mail is campaigning for justice for victims of the scandal – calling on ministers to fix Britain’s dangerous buildings by the middle of next year and spare leaseholders the crippling financial burdens.