On 24 February 2021 the Government defeated an amendment to the Fire Safety Bill proposed by the House of Lords which would have prevented the owner of a building from passing the costs of fire safety remedial works to leaseholders or tenants of that building.
In defeating the amendments the Government successfully argued that (i) the Fire Safety Bill was "not the correct place for remediation costs to be addressed" and (ii) the issue of fire safety remediation was too complex to be dealt with in the manner proposed by the Lords' amendment.
Home Office Minister Kit Malthouse also pointed to the recent Government announcement of an additional £3.5 billion building safety fund which reflected the Government's commitment to provide leaseholders with “peace of mind and financial certainty".
However, the Government's announcement has been criticised for not covering leaseholders and tenants in buildings below 18 metres in height, nor addressing other fire safety issues beyond cladding, meaning that leaseholders and tenants still face the risk of incurring significant financial liabilities for the rectification of fire safety defects in their properties.
Defeat of the Lords' amendment, and the Government's apparent failure to engage with this issue, has not been well received and Conservative backbencher, Stephen McPartland MP, has called for the amendment to be re-tabled when the Fire Safety Bill returns to the House of Lords. As such this issue is unlikely to disappear and it is highly likely that this issue will be revisited in the Building Safety Bill currently under consideration.
“In trying to help; the government have satisfied no one and they have upset just about everyone. The leaseholders are not responsible for this. They know they are not. We know they are not. The government know they are not and, therefore, the government’s position is now untenable." Royston Smith MP