Home-owners are to be given more than double the amount of time to go after builders and developers who carry out “shoddy workmanship” on their properties, the Housing Secretary has confirmed.
The Cabinet minister said the shift, reportedly included in the Building Safety Bill which is due out on Monday, came after a realisation that some household appliances have better guarantees on them than new homes.
Taxpayers are currently forking out £5 billion in the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze, in which 72 people lost their lives, to pay for dangerous cladding to be stripped from apartment blocks.
“But it should be the builders and the developers who should be paying for this.
“It is not right that either the leaseholder or the taxpayer has to step up.
“I’m announcing today that we’re going to change the law retrospectively to give every home-owner 15 years in which to take action against the people who built their building if there’s shoddy workmanship.
“I wish we hadn’t reached this point, I wish more developers had paid up.”
The Housing Secretary said his department had “found you only had six years as a home-owner to take action against the person who built your home”.
He added: “That often gives you less protection than if you bought a toaster or a fridge in the shop.”
Mr Jenrick said the “lion’s share” of the buildings identified as fitted with dangerous cladding would qualify under the 15-year retrospective law.
Quizzed on efforts to remove dangerous cladding in England four years after Grenfell, Mr Jenrick said that 95% of the 469 buildings identified have either had the cladding removed or had workers on site.
About 70% of them have seen work completed, while the rest – “bar a very small number of exceptional cases – should be finished “by the end of the year”, he added.
Mr Jenrick said he is working with lenders, insurers and surveyors to “create a much more sensible and proportionate way forward” after leaseholders living in flats with dangerous cladding experienced hikes in insurance premiums.
He argued that those living in houses and bungalows are statistically more likely to be victims of a fire than those in high-rise blocks.
Labour was critical of the BBC for failing to secure an Opposition MP to counter Mr Jenrick’s answers on the cladding situation.
Lucy Powell, the party’s housing spokeswoman, tweeted: “Andrew Marr dropped me last week when I was booked to come on to discuss our proposals to end the building safety crisis.
“The programme hasn’t covered the issues for a long time.
“This week they now have the Government on with their proposals. Not very balanced in my view.”
Meanwhile, Mr Jenrick defended his planning reforms after it was put to him that the housing development proposals, designed to build more homes with a focus on former industrial land, had put voters off in recent by-elections in Batley & Spen and Chesham & Amersham.
Stating that “only 100 houses” were built last year in the Chesham & Amersham constituency – which the Tories lost to the Liberal Democrats last month – the minister said more housing is “absolutely critical” to the Government’s so-called levelling-up agenda.
“What we want to see are good quality, environmentally sustainable homes, with the infrastructure around them, being built across the country so that young people and families can get on to the housing ladder,” he told Sky News.
“That is absolutely critical to levelling up, to tackling intergenerational unfairness in this country, and we are going to redouble our efforts to build those homes, but do so in a way that protects green spaces – they won’t be being built on the Green Belt and we want to make a planning system which is much more engaging than the current one, which only 1% or 2% of the public have any contact with in their lifetime.”