Yesterday I visited Transport House in Salford. The leaseholders there are part the next stage in the cladding crisis. But their problem isn't really what's on their building. It's what's in it. Their freeholder has told them it will cost £3m to make safe. Over £100k each.

🧵
First some backrgound.

You'll have heard about the cladding crisis. Post the catastrophe at Grenfell Tower, government regulations on cladding changed, requiring the removal of ACM cladding systems (flammable) on buildings over 18m

But cladding isn't the only issue...
...new regs require lots of other fire safety improvements, including changes on fire cavity barriers and insulation within walls.

This is the problem Transport House faces. The leaseholders were recently sent this letter by their freeholder outlining the cost of the works. £3m.
Or £97k per flat (over £100k if you include other improvements).

There is currently no government assistance available for Transport House. The government's £1bn Building Safety Fund is only for buildings 18m or over. Transport House is 14m (5 storeys). Moreover the fund is...
...likely to be oversubscribed and is primarily for cladding.

There has been talk about a loan scheme with costs capped at £50 a month- it hasn't yet materialised. It's a significant sum and it would take TH residents 161 years to pay it off.
The government says that freeholders should pay the costs not leaseholders- but there is no legislation to this effect. Irwell Valley, the freeholder and charity/housing association, says the leaseholders will have to pay.
Needless to say the leaseholders of Transport House cannot afford it. In many cases the £100k cost would be more than they paid for their properties in the first place. Many are shared ownership- they don't even own the flats outright, yet they're being told they must...
...pay the entire cost, even though they bought the flats in good faith, went through all the conveyancing process etc.

As you can imagine, it's caused the leaseholders huge distress. Mandy has MS and she told me her condition has worsened considerably over the last year.
"I can't sleep. And last night I went to bed at three o'clock and I was up at six. Didn't really sleep. And it's just the constant worry is like what's going to happen tomorrow? Do I still have a home I can live in or not?"
Matt bought his flat for around £80,000 back in 2012. It was his first home, he saved and borrowed money for his parents. He's since had a daughter and wanted to buy a house. He can't because his property is now unmortgageable.
"For nearly two years I've been trapped in this situation. The apartment is worth zero. I have no control over this as a lease holder. You don't actually have any rights. You don't own a brick. You literally just lease the apartment out for a certain amount of time....
"You're not in control of any decisions. You're not even consulted with by the freeholder. We have no power over anything they are doing, but we are the ones who are going to face these bills."

Matt is an NHS lab assistant- he earns £22k a year- there's no hope of paying.
Irwell Valley insists the letter does not amount to a bill but instead an attempt to level with leaseholders and that they're determined to work with them to find a solution. Their Chief Exec told me: "We're doing this because we want to be satisfied that every building that..."
"every building we own, either a building that we rent or in this case where we have the freeholder, that the residents of those buildings are safe in their buildings and that the buildings meet current fire safety regulations."

She said she thinks the government should step in.
She reiterated her "empathy" and "sympathy"- that said I asked her repeatedly if she could guarantee no-one would lose their home over this, that her organisation would not play any part in removing someone. She couldn't give me that assurance.
Meanwhile, the statute of limitations has expired for the developer. IV says that the building met all building regs in 2005.

So looks like the government, freeholder and developer isn't going to pay- despite the fact they all had a role in regulation or construction...
...of a building which isn't safe. The leaseholders did not but they're being left with the cost.

More on this on Newsnight shortly, tune in.
Meanwhile the government says it's up to freeholders to pay and they shouldn't be passing it onto leaseholders. But five times in Parliament Conservative MPs have been whipped to oppose amendments that would have limited leaseholders' exposure. Last time there were 32 Tory rebels
Indeed, when @maitlis asked @PBottomleyMP (Conservative Father of the House) after my piece tonight where responsibility lies he said: "It lies everywhere except with the residential leaseholders. They don't own the building. They didn't construct the building..."
"...They didn't inspect the building. They didn't regulate components' use in the building. These homes were put up 17 years ago. It shouldn't have taken national government, local govt, the builders, the freeholders, the component suppliers all this time. Quite clearly..."
"...these people cannot pay...so the government needs to face up to their responsibilities, bail out these people and then government can make arrangements to chase those responsible."
I asked the government if they had made any estimates for how many buildings might be affected by the myriad of fire safety changes and what the costs might be. They didn't answer the question.

Nor did they answer when I asked whether there is a timescale for the loan...
...scheme which ministers have talked about. They did say this: "Building owners are responsible for making their buildings safe - including the owners of Transport House – and we expect them to take swift action to identify and fix defects, including where work has been..."
"...sub-standard, without passing costs on to leaseholders."

But of course they've already conceded that building owners aren't completely responsible in that they've providing funds for buildings 18m+. The question is what is the moral, political or philosophical difference...
...between the different building types? The moral issue, the question of moral hazard and desert, is surely the same one.

It's worth remembering that everyone in Transport House, as in other places affected have done the "right thing". They've scrimped and saved, to do...
...what politicians are always encouraging- to get on the housing ladder. And yet through not fault of their own they not only risk losing that rung but also face homelessness and destitution.

If you've also been affected by this, am keen to hear from you. DMs open.
If you'd like to watch our piece on Transport House and the enormous costs being presented to residents in full and didn't see the programme last night, you can do so here. Produced by @jakemorristw.

bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09…
This suggestion is not a partisan one- indeed, it was precisely the remedy the Conservative Father of the House Peter Bottomley suggested on the programme last night.
Inundated with messages from people with non-cladding building issues, enormous charges and lives frozen and ruined as a result. This scandal is so widespread. Will share some later- in meantime keep your stories coming via DM.
Take a look at what the leaseholders in Transport House are dealing with. Their insulation is ordinary polystyrene, which is flammable.
One of the most invidious things about this story is how many young homeowners, often on shared ownership it has affected. These people did all they could just to get a rung on the ladder, doing everything the govt said and encouraged them to do and are now left in limbo or worse
As one person said to me about their shared ownership. flat in south London: "The threat to life is plainly the biggest danger here. But lots of us have jumped on schemes like shared ownership to buy our first property and are now trapped with no light at the end of the tunnel."

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