Concerns about Cladding

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By Chris Pease, Head of Residential Conveyancing

The fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017 and the widespread reports that the severity of the fire was increased by the cladding on the building continue to pose major issues for those who own flats in buildings with cladding installed and for those who want to buy the flats.

Estimates vary as to how many buildings there are throughout the country which have the same cladding as that used at Grenfell Tower known as aluminium composite material (ACM), and concerns linger in people’s minds about other forms of cladding in the absence of more definite information.

Buyers are understandably reluctant to commit to purchasing flats with cladding without obtaining a great deal of information regarding it and its safety.

Equally those who already own flats in buildings with cladding potentially face large service charge bills in relation to the cost of replacing unsafe cladding.

In addition, mortgage lenders are now very reluctant to lend money secured on flats with any form of cladding without comprehensive checks and paperwork being in place.

Indeed, since the Government issued further guidance at the end of 2018 mortgage lenders appear to have adopted what was intended purely as guidance as being a requirement creating further problems for buyers who need a mortgage.

Mortgage lenders request extensive evidence of a building’s construction from surveyors with very specific qualifications. There are not many surveyors with the appropriate qualifications.

As a buyer, the essential questions you need answered are:

  • What type of cladding has been used?
  • When it was installed and whether it complied with building regulations at the time of installation?
  • Does it comply with current building regulations?
  • Is there a fire risk assessment in place for the building and have any recommendations about necessary works been carried out or is there a plan in place for them to be carried out?

These are issues not only for lawyers but perhaps more particularly for your surveyor to advise you on.

To discuss the buying or selling of your flat, get in touch with Chris Pease, Head of Residential Conveyancing.

Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.