Michael Gove’s comments that landlords “of significant wealth” should bear the brunt of cladding costs has sparked an angry response from two trade bodies.
As it stands only landlords with one property will be protected by the upcoming Building Safety Bill.
The National Residential Landlords Association dubbed it unfair, while estate agency body Propertymark claimed that the government doesn’t understand the sector.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said:
“Michael Gove’s previous comments about ending the scandal of leaseholders paying to remove dangerous cladding now ring hollow.
“This is not about who does and does not have the means to pay. It is about fairness. No leaseholder, irrespective of how many properties they own, should be expected to foot the bill for dangerous and illegal cladding installed by someone else.”
“The government needs to wake up to an injustice of its own making and make amends now.”
Landlords that could be hit by this announcement will be following in the House of Lords.
The Conservative Peer, Lord Naseby has tabled an amendment to the Building Safety Bill to ensure that all leaseholders are treated equally, irrespective of how many properties they own.
In addition, a parliamentary motion tabled by the Conservative MP, Sir Peter Bottomley which calls for buy-to-let landlords and owner-occupier leaseholders to be treated the same, has secured cross-party support including from Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green MPs.
Propertymark also didn’t hold back in its criticism.
Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns, said: “The broad assumption that has been made about the financial status of buy-to-let landlords shows there is more for the UK government to do to fully understand the private rented sector.
“Assuming that landlords with more than one property are ‘of significant wealth’ and therefore have the means to contribute without support could have a negative impact on the amount of time that it takes to make buildings safe and fail to restore full confidence in this area of the market.
“So while it’s a step forward to bring what the Secretary of State termed ‘landlords by default’ within the scope of the fund, the UK government must get a better grasp of the sector as a whole and ensure that all landlords, who are also leaseholders, do not have to pay for a crisis that is not of their own making, regardless of their perceived financial status.”
Gove was challenged in parliament on the issue of cladding removal being slowed down by asking some landlords to pay.
He said the government’s approach may be refined to take that issue into account, though he conceded that “we will ever have a perfect solution in which there will not be potential delays”.