• Following the tragedy of Grenfell Tower in June 2017, a report by the Government raised the issue with combustible materials on high rise homes and called on owners to check for and remediate dangerous materials.

    The policy caused a ripple through the housing industry. The report confirmed that combustible cladding was responsible for the spread of the fire and it was clear that combustible cladding (ACM) should be removed. However, guidance on how this cladding would be found, eliminated, and who should be liable for the repairs was not.

    However, it is not just ACM cladding which is causing the problem. In December 2018, there was further official guidance about other types of cladding. This was in Advice Note 14 published by the Government. This document calls on all building owners to take ‘general fire precautions’ in their building and make sure the external wall systems are ‘safe’.

    For existing buildings, safe means ensuring that the materials are safely installed and maintained and to use materials with limited combustibility, unless they form part of the system that has achieved the building research establishments BR 135 which is a classification applicable to very few materials.

    The effects of this on the property market are showing and thousands of property owners are finding themselves unable to sell or remortgage their home because a building owner has to say the building’s materials are fully safe which is difficult to do when a building is waiting to be inspected.

    The issues

    • Surveyors and mortgage lenders are requiring evidence from building owners that the cladding meets the Advice 14 criteria
    • Failure to do this means that properties are being valued well below their true value or even at £0
    • Most building owners are not able to provide these assurances quickly and so they are having to get engineers to carry out lengthy and costly checks
    • Different lenders are taking different approaches with some being satisfied if a building is being investigated while others require a full remediation plan

    What is clear is that the issue is causing homeowners unable to sell or remortgage their property until they can provide their lender with the evidence needed to confirm that the cladding meets the requirements.

    The government continues to stand its position that the safety of residents remains a priority and on 20 January 2020 announced that the ban on putting combustible materials in cladding systems on buildings over 18 million would be extended to buildings over 11 million.

    It is clear from this that thousands of homeowners are going to suffer financially until the issues are resolved. If you would like further advice on these issues, please contact a member of Brachers’ Property team.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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