Fire Safety Bill Update

Key Highlights: 

  • MPs voted 242 to 153 to defeat an amendment of the Fire Safety Bill; it is expected that the Bill will be passed by Parliament today
  • The bill has gone through many rounds of votes as the House of Lords tried to ensure residents would not have to pay for required safety upgrades.
  • Ministers suffered several House of Lords defeats in attempting to pass the legislation as the issue of who should pay for additional safety works became a sticking point.
  • Those who voted down the amendments noted that they were “not sufficiently detailed” and “could delay repairs”, with the question of who should pay for repairs to be dealt with in the forthcoming Building Safety Bill

IRPM Commentary:

The amendment that was voted down was a tricky concept for property managers. IRPM absolutely agree with the principle that leaseholders should not pay to fix unsafe buildings, above or below 18m. We have strongly made that case in a cross-industry campaign to government, putting these points to over 30 MPs and MHCLG itself.

The problem was not so much what was in the Lords’ amendments, but what was not. If the amendment ruled leaseholders should not pay, then it needed to say who would pay, otherwise there would be no money for, say, waking watches, which would have to end immediately and inevitably that would mean evacuating some buildings. Also, some remediation works would suddenly stop. The Lords could not put such a provision into the amendment but by forcing the issue down to the last moment, they sent a clear signal to government to find a solution that does not involve leaseholders paying to fix bad buildings bought in good faith. The Lords’ view is government should pay to fix and then recover as much as possible from the developers / contractors / materials suppliers who caused the problem. Chasing down and litigating against this complex supply chain is something the State is best placed to do, so we agree with the Lords on that point.