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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Cladding scandal hurts entire housing market says top industry figure

Ed Mead has joined a growing chorus demanding government action on the cladding crisis.

He is one of the industry’s leading figures from his decades in estate agency and more recent innovations in PropTech and outsourcing.

As most people in the industry know, regulations introduced following the Grenfell Tower tragedy have created an estimated 1.5m mortgage prisoners who seemingly cannot sell their properties today because they are in blocks with condemned cladding.

Reports suggest some owners face a 10 year wait before their buildings will be inspected, let alone repaired; there are also disputes over who pays for cladding on a block to be made safe. 

Of vital importance to owners is obtaining a so-called EWS1 form, which is how cladding on tower blocks is now graded for safety. 

So Ed Mead - founder of outsourced service Viewber and a former director of Douglas & Gordon estate agency in London - has entered the fray, following a recent campaign started in The Times and seeking to build demand for rapid government action to help those owners affected.

Here’s what he has to say:

Many reading the press around this issue, lost in the miasma that is Covid, have probably been thinking ‘Thank God that’s not going to affect me.’ Time to think again. 

Martina Lees’s excellent article in The Times reminds us that there are 1.5m properties potentially affected. If true it’s going to start to impact the wider market unless government does something, sooner than later.

My eye-opening moment came when an ex-employee at D&G told me about his experience, trapped in a block with a new wife and baby, vastly inflated service charges and a £0 valuation. 

OK - he’s young and reasonably stoic, but in an era when home ownership is supposedly the dream, he’s in a very real nightmare with hundreds of thousands of others.

Mentioning 'government' usually elicits groans, but they’re the only ones with the legislative ability to do anything. Seems to me there are a few things they could consider.

Estimates to fix everything are of the order of £4.4 billion. FFS, this is paltry compared to the tens of billions being thrown at Covid AND sorting the issue will guarantee work for years.

The inability of mortgage companies to get an EWS1 form attesting to the safety of the cladding. Perhaps, at the same time they announce a mitigation plan, they offer an indemnity to cover this issue off.

The report shows up what an appalling job was done in fitting much of the cladding. Not just in terms of the actual cladding itself but the guff that was bunged in behind it.

Some house builders will have been worse than others, but overall there must be some corporate responsibility and it might be thought reasonable if government sought some kind of wider levy on profits in the industry to kick start the national process.

I don’t have a universal panacea to sort this but pressure needs to build – it’ll affect us all.

Poll: Is it time for the government to solve this crisis?

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    where properties are effectively rendered un-saleable because of cladding concerns each redress scheme should prohibit agents or passive intermediaries from taking fees from vendors who will be unable to conclude a sale until cladding and onerous lease term issues are resolved.

    Mortgage lenders are very EWS1 aware now so blagging or forcing an exchange is very unlikely.

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