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NHS heroes stuck in cladding ‘bureaucratic nightmare’, Mayor tells MPs

PUBLISHED: 17:35 21 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:41 21 May 2020

The Grenfell Tower block in west London in October 2019. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA.

The Grenfell Tower block in west London in October 2019. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Hundreds of Hackney leaseholders are living with “considerable stress and anxiety” as they battle building owners, mortgage lenders and the government over the removal of potentially dangerous cladding.

Pocket CEO Marc Vlessingt, Cllr Sem Moema (the mayor's advisor for private renting and housing afffordability) and mayor Phil Glanville.Pocket CEO Marc Vlessingt, Cllr Sem Moema (the mayor's advisor for private renting and housing afffordability) and mayor Phil Glanville.

This was the message from Hackney’s mayor in his written evidence to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s inquiry into cladding remediation.

He said almost three years after the Grenfell Tower fire, very few building owners across the country have been able to access funding from the Cladding Remediation Fund.

This has led to residents living in private blocks, which include many NHS and key workers, facing huge bills reaching into tens of thousands of pounds for interim fire and cladding safety measures.

Mayor Philip Glanville and Cllr Sem Moema, mayoral advisor on private renting and housing affordability, wrote: “We are concerned about the responsibility of funding remediation falling on those with the least resources or access to legal representation, at a time when their focus is rightly on their heroic frontline work.

Cladding is removed from a building in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA WireCladding is removed from a building in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

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“Ministers should not expect Hackney’s key workers to be spending their time off in a bureaucratic nightmare.”

Residents have been left feeling uncertain about the safety of their homes and forced to deal with cladding issues.

They are unable to remortgage or sell their flats, despite buildings being built to regulation at the time, because lenders are unwilling to provide a mortgage on properties which do not meet the latest government advice.

The Grenfell Tower block in west London in October 2019. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA.The Grenfell Tower block in west London in October 2019. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA.

Additionally, some mortgage companies have now valued the buildings at £0, leaving some leaseholders, whose fixed-rate mortgages are coming to an end, “lumped with high variable-rate mortgages of up to six per cent”.

Mayor Glanville and Cllr Moema said: “These residents have a limited ability to fund the necessary remediation work or to engage in a drawn out legal battle with building owners – especially at a time when they are risking their lives to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The government must require greater transparency about the ownership of buildings, materials used, and where liabilities are placed.” The council estimates hundreds of residents in Hackney could be affected by the “intolerable situation”.


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