The Government must provide leadership and clarity for leaseholders who are unable to sell their home and are facing huge bills to remove potentially dangerous cladding, the Mayor of Hackney has told a committee of MPs.
Hackney Council has been contacted by leaseholders living in private blocks – including NHS staff and key workers – who say they are living with “considerable stress and anxiety” as they battle the owners of the buildings, mortgage lenders and the Government.
Many of them are being asked to pay large sums of money – sometimes tens of thousands of pounds – due to their private building owners being unable to recover the costs of removing or fixing cladding from the Government.
Some are unable to remortgage, staircase or sell their flats – even though their buildings were built to regulations at the time – because mortgage lenders are unwilling to provide a mortgage on properties that do not meet the latest Government advice relating to cladding. Some mortgage companies are subsequently valuing their homes at £0, leaving leaseholders whose fixed-rate mortgages are ending lumped with high variable-rate mortgages of up to 6%.
The Council estimates hundreds of residents could be affected. Nearly three years after the Grenfell Tower fire, very few building owners across the country have been able to access funding from the Government’s Cladding Remediation Fund.
The issue is also affecting the Council’s own buildings, with mortgage lenders interpreting the Government’s guidance differently and requiring Council leaseholders and buyers to provide detailed evidence about the construction of their home.
The Council has contacted more than 200 building owners in the borough to ask them to provide data on the construction of their buildings at the request of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – but in some cases, responses have been inadequate or slow.