Hundreds of protesters gathered outside parliament on Thursday to protest issues facing the country’s tenants as the mayor of London warned that the system was “broken”.
Building owners and landlords need to share important building safety information with their occupants, Sadiq Khan said as he called for action to address security issues and rebuild trust with tenants.
More than four years after the Grenfell Tower fire, some tenants in the capital still fear for their safety, are unable to sell their homes or face large bills to solve clothing problems, he said.
The mayor’s comments came as tenants, politicians and campaigners met in central London for the Leaseholders Together conference, which aimed to draw attention to issues facing England’s 4.6 million tenants, including building security, clothing, rents, service charges and insurance increases. ,
Khan addressed the protesters at the rally and called for new housing secretary Michael Gove to meet with tenants and hear their stories.
He said: “I have met tenants who, at the end of their tether, are considering suicide. I have met tenants who are unable to pay the service fees they have to pay.
“I have met tenants who were forced to pay for Waking Watch because the government has delayed making their homes safe.
“What I do not understand is how anyone who spent time with the Grenfell Tower community did not feel an urgent sense of making all our homes safe.”
The mayor added that the tenant system is “broken”.
“This is not just a matter of clothing,” he said.
‘This is a problem that the tenant system is broken. And that’s the core of this. ”
Speaking ahead of the event, the mayor said: “The current building security situation is a scandal and a crisis – and it seems that the government is still not willing to address it properly.
“We can not continue like this. Building owners must act now to rebuild trust with tenants. This can only be achieved through communication and transparency, accompanied by robust changes in building safety legislation. ”
Tenant Danielle Harper, 28, came to the convention, organized by the End Our Cladding Scandal with the National Leasehold Campaign and the charity Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, to urge the government to provide support.
Harper bought his lease in London three years ago and found out that the cladding in the building is unsafe nine months later.
Tenants in the building initially had to pay for a Waking Watch, a system in which a building is patrolled to ensure that a warning is given in the event of a fire.
A fire alarm, which tenants also had to pay for, was later installed.
Ms Harper told the PA news agency: “Our management company applied to the building safety fund, the money from the government, to remedy the building.
“Fortunately, our building was successful in this, but we are still waiting for the government to start the remedy.”
Alison Smith, 32, bought an apartment in Leeds city center and found out that the building was not safe a few years ago due to a problem with the cladding system, which will cost over £ 21 million to repair.
She said she might have to contribute to this and said to the PA: “For me it’s a possible bill of up to £ 60,000 or more, so it’s just been a nightmare the last couple of years waiting to hear what that’s going to happen. “
She hopes to receive money from the Building Safety Fund, but has not yet heard if she has been successful.
Geeta Nanda, chair of the G15, the group of London’s largest housing associations and CEO of Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH), said: “We fully agree that accurate, timely and transparent communication with residents is crucial to responding to building security challenges that have emerged in recent years.
“G15 members are investing over £ 2.9 billion over the next 10 years in vital building safety work and have set up dedicated teams within existing resources to ensure that important fire safety information is shared with residents in an accessible way.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Authorities said: “We are spending over £ 5 billion to fund the replacement of unsafe cladding in high-risk buildings and are making the biggest improvements to building safety in a generation.
“We have always been aware that building owners and industry must make buildings safe without passing on costs to tenants — and our new measures will legally require owners of high-rise buildings to prove that they have tried all routes to cover the cost of essential security. working.
“Alongside this, our ambitious tenancy reforms will benefit millions of homeowners by ending unfair practices in the rental market and living up to our commitment to set the basic rents to zero on new leases.”