Few tragedies have brought together the nation in recent times like the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017. This horrific event, in which 72 people died and 70 more were injured , is still fresh in our memory. But for all of the direct victims, there are many more whose stories have not been heard.
It famously came out in the months after news of the inferno, that the cladding of the building was a big factor in it quickly spreading. Cladding is the outer layer of cavity wall insulation, and, depending on the material used, can be a fire risk. The Grenfell Tower Inquiry was started in 2017 and released some of their findings in October 2019. They agreed with what many suspected; that the building exterior did not meet building standards.
In soon became clear that the issue of cladding could have further implications.
Cladding’s effect on homeowners
The kind of problematic cladding at Grenfell has been found elsewhere. It’s come out since that this has proven to be a huge issue for current homeowners, affecting their ability to sell their properties. There are reportedly a staggering 500,000 people or more in Britain affected by this issue. Obviously this is going to have a strong effect on the housing market. Some homeowners have been told that they will have to wait for 6 to 12 months, but other projections have this figure at being much higher.
The biggest problem is that those waiting to sell need to verify the safety of their cladding. In December of 2018, the government issued Advice Note 14 which caused lenders to increase their restrictions on the materials used for cladding. This means getting a specialist report which many landlords are reluctant to do for fear or failing or otherwise. This has left so many effectively ‘locked’ into their current contracts, unable to sell or leave their house.
What can be done?
Steps have been taken by some companies to reduce the effect of this potential crisis. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been working with a number of firms and lenders to see what they can do.
Barclays have begun working on a solution to the certificate issue – allowing a valuation and a mortgage. This is provided the cladding is fire-proof. This document is nearly finalised and ready to be useful for many.
The Human cost
Many residents caught in this difficult situation have explained the toll that this has taken on them. Some say that this have left them feeling ‘trapped’ or that the ordeal has been a ‘nightmare’. Obviously, the effect of being stuck in a house you no longer want to live in could be vast. You may be wishing to move house for financial reasons like downsizing and not being able to do so could create a strain on your bank balance. Or if you’re looking to move for other reasons like a change of circumstance or scenery, this could even affect your mental health.
We hope that in the coming months, more solutions can be proposed to what is potentially a very costly situation, one which has been pushed upon homeowners through no fault of their own.