Betts marks Housing Ministry’s homework and finds room for improvement

The Chair of the Housing Select Committee has thanked the Government for its detailed response to its scrutiny of the Building Safety Bill, but there are many questions outstanding and no solution to paying for fire safety remediation.

In the latest letter in a series of correspondence between the Chair of the Housing Select Committee and the Housing Secretary, Clive Betts MP continues  to hold the Government to account.

Having waited months for a response from the Housing Secretary, Mr Betts wrote that he was pleased to see so many of his committee’s recommendations reflected in the Bill that started its journey through Parliament on 5 July.

His letter dated 19 July sets out the outstanding questions and concerns from the Housing Committee.

One of the headline grabbing changes to the Government’s approach to dealing with the problem of paying for the cost of building fire safety remediation was to extend the limitation period for claims under the Defective Premises Act 1972 from 6 years to 15 years.

Mr Betts asked what the logic was for setting this limit and how many buildings it would bring into scope as a result (and leave out).

On the matter of who should pay for the costs of remediating fire safety defects in buildings, Mr Betts said: “It is our view that no leaseholder should face uncapped costs for remediating historic defects not of their making – indeed, we maintain that leaseholders should pay nothing at all.”

The Housing Secretary said that leaseholders should not face “unaffordable upfront costs” to which Mr Betts responded: “Does the Government now accept that, over a period, leaseholder payments could amount to costs that are unaffordable?”

In questioning some of the detail about the scope of the Bill, Mr Betts reiterated his view that the ability of a resident to evacuate a building at any height should be the principal factor when defining scope.

In a couple of areas, the Committee recommended more national direction – on third party accreditation and on a register for Building Safety Managers. Mr Betts asked for more detail on how these will be achieved without any Government intervention.

Mr Betts asked for a response to these and other questions about the Building Safety Bill by 27 August.

 The full detail of the letter can be found here.