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Support growing for Fire Safety Bill amendments that add protection for leaseholders

Friday 15 January 2021

In November, the House of Lords passed an amendment to the UK Government’s Fire Safety Bill making changes to the current legislation to protect leaseholders from having to pay for historical fire safety remedial work, including the removal of dangerous cladding.

The Fire Safety Bill is set to amend the Fire Safety Order 2005, and along with the Building Safety Bill, is part of a collection of new legislation that aims to tackle the recommendations within the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

The amendment, launched by Stephen McPartland MP and Itchen Royston Smith MP included:

  1. Amendment to increase safety procedures for building managers and owners of domestic premises, including an obligation to share information with the local Fire and Rescue Service.
  2. Amendment to implement a public register for fire risk assessments so that prospective and current tenants, buyers, owners, and leaseholders can check the fire safety status of their property.
  3. Amendment to prevent freeholders from passing on remediation costs to leaseholders and tenants through demands for one-off payments or increases to service charges.

After successfully passing through the House of Lords on 24 November, the amendment has gained strong support with more than 20 Conservative MPs adding their names to the updated legislation while it is waiting to be returned to Parliament.

With the Building Safety Bill and Fire Safety Bill due to reach Parliament soon, it is clear that 2021 will be a significant year for leaseholders and leasehold reform.

Propertymark campaigning

Propertymark has been well aware of the vulnerability of leaseholders and has been consistently campaigning to improve their rights.

In September last year, we responded to the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Building Safety Bill with a number of concerns, including the way in which the Building Safety Charge is structured, which will make it much easier for building owners to pass the costs of remedial work to leaseholders.

We have also campaigned for years for better protection for leaseholders and have urged the UK Government to reform the leasehold system. In 2018, our research ‘Leasehold: A Life Sentence’ uncovered multiple damning statistics and faults with the leasehold system, including 94 per cent of leaseholders regretting their decision to purchase leasehold property.

On 7 January, the UK Government announced that they will reform leaseholders’ rights by giving them the right to extend their lease at zero ground rent, saving households tens of thousands of pounds and making a vital step in the right direction for leaseholder’s rights.

Quote mark

The Fire Safety Bill represents a significant step towards delivering meaningful change so that a tragedy like that at Grenfell Tower can never happen again.

The Fire Safety Bill is the first legislative step in this process, and, as I have stated before, we are committed to delivering the Grenfell recommendations through regulations following the fire safety consultation.

The Building Safety Bill will also deliver significant change in both the regulatory framework and industry culture, creating a more accountable system. Taken together, the Fire Safety Bill, the building safety Bill and the fire safety consultation will create fundamental improvements to building and fire safety standards and ensure that residents are safe, and feel safe, in their homes.

Lord Stephen Greenhalgh Minister of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government