More than a year on from the Grenfell Tower fire which saw 72 people killed, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry is still ongoing in order to decipher exactly what went wrong on 14th July 2017.
Whilst the inquiry continues to reveal new issues which may have contributed to the fire and the subsequent death of so many residents, the concern which has proven without a doubt to be contributory is the cladding used to insulate the building itself. The specific offending cladding is aluminium composite material (ACM).
The reason why this cladding can be so dangerous is because typically these cladding systems consist of insulation (which sits flush to the original wall) and cladding panels, with a gap between the cladding and insulation. This gap can act as a channel in the event of a fire meaning that fire breaks are installed horizontally and vertically. The horizontal ones are made up of intumescent strips which remain ‘open’ until a fire, which prompts them to close to form a fire break when heated. The problem this this cladding system is that the ACM material is flammable and the channel between the cladding and insulation can cause a chimney affect directing the fire vertically upwards, allowing it to spread from floor to floor rapidly.
This type of cladding is now an issue that many UK landlords will have to be aware of, especially commercial property owners or HMO landlords who may be responsible for one or more multi-storey building.
Landlords and homeowners across the UK are warned that if they do not remove the dangerous cladding, they could face council enforcement action. This means that property owners and developers are responsible for identifying whether the dangerous cladding has been used in their properties and then having the cladding removed and replaced with an approved industry standard alternative.
In a bid to ensure this is enforced across the UK, the Government has committed to paying £400million towards removing any of this cladding used on social housing blocks.
The Government’s Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire, has already contacted 60 landlords and developers to explain what action they must take to avoid being penalised for using this Grenfell-style wall cladding. In the meantime, fire safety specialists recommend taking certain precautions until the cladding can be replaced.
It is predicted that there are still many private sector landlords who own properties which are unlikely to comply with the current building regulations, taking into account this dangerous cladding. As of August 2018 there were nearly 200 of the 293 properties recorded which are likely to fall below these standards. As of yet, a number of developers and landlords have failed to send their action plan for improvements to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
Any property owners who consistently fail to comply with these measures may receive a council enforcement notice. As a specialist in housing and property litigation law, Manjinder Kaur Atwal, is experienced in acting for private landlords in a range of housing disputes, including when council enforcement action is brought against them.
As a solicitor and Director, Manjinder has over 10 years’ experience dealing with a diverse caseload, from small claims cases to multi-track cases, and undertakes her own advocacy at Court and Tribunals on behalf of clients.
If you would like to know your rights and responsibilities concerning the removal of ACM cladding or you have had a council enforcement notice served on you, contact Manjinder on 020 3114 1269, or email her on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Duncan Lewis Housing Solicitors
Duncan Lewis Housing Solicitors can assist in any issues arising with local housing authorities, housing applications, tenants, landlords, ownership and repairs. With a niche expertise in Possession and Unlawful Eviction cases the Department offers representation in all proceedings including reviews, appeals and judicial review proceedings relating to homelessness, disrepair, succession for tenants and neighbourhood disputes.
If you have any housing queries contact our team on 0333 772 0409.