Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called on building owners and landlords to help leaseholders by sharing vital building safety information with their residents.
More than four years after the Grenfell Tower fire, thousands are still affected by the building safety crisis. Some leaseholders have been left fearing for their safety, others have been unable to sell their homes and some are facing substantial bills to remediate cladding issues they could not have anticipated when they bought their homes.
The mayor is calling on the government to commit to “fully funding non-cladding remediation works, such as the installation of effective sprinklers, where the absence of these systems pose a fire risk”.
There has so far been no commitment from the government on non-cladding remediation funds for any building, despite the sector flagging their fears that these issues will present significant costs in the future.
Leaseholders have pointed to challenges accessing the basic fire safety information contained in buildings’ Fire Risk Assessments, with some going as far as to submit Freedom of Information requests to their landlord in order to access information about the safety of the building they live in.
Although the building safety bill introduces a statutory responsibility for building owners and landlords to share fire safety information, the mayor fears that implementation will take too long for owners who are already struggling to get this information. He believes strongly that voluntary disclosure is the fastest route to improve transparency and safety as well as to rebuild trust between leaseholders and the property industry.
The mayor’s letter also encourages building owners and landlords to share ‘EWS1’ forms containing information about the external wall system of buildings, which leaseholders have also experienced challenges accessing. EWS1 forms are required by lenders as part of the valuation process. Not having access to these forms affects the mental and financial health of leaseholders, who are in a state of uncertainty about whether they will be able to sell their home. There have also been cases of criminals offering fake EWS1 forms in order to take advantage of desperate leaseholders.
The mayor’s action comes as he joins hundreds of leaseholders and a cross-party group of politicians, campaigners and religious figures at a rally outside Parliament this week.
Dave Richards, London Cladding Action Group, said: "The Building Safety Crisis has blighted the lives of thousands of Londoners. It is financially ruining people across our city.” He added: “At the heart of the scandal is the lack of trust in the property industry.”