And brokers agreed that while the situation must be addressed, it would be a mistake to put responsibility for that solely at the government’s door.
Down to developers to act
James McGregor, director at Mesa Financial Consultants, argued that the government does not really have any responsibility to address the cladding unless they are council buildings, and that it should instead fall to the developers to take action.
He continued: “They should be held accountable as they made the profit initially by using the cheap unsafe cladding.
“That is all it came down to at the time, the cost of materials. The development companies should be taken to court and forced to replace any unsafe cladding.”
Sharing the costs
Martin Stewart, director of London Money, said the developing ‘mortgage prisoner’ situation ‒ where owners of apartments in high rise buildings may be unable to sell due to unanswered questions over the cladding used on the building – was an example of retrospective action severely impacting people in the present.
He noted that while the obvious position was to look to the government to sort it out, at what point do we stop looking to the government for support?
“You could look at the developer but their argument would be that it met all regulatory tests at the time. What about the freeholder or the management company?
“Again, it took Grenfell to happen for anyone to realise there was even a problem in the first place so their argument would be the same.”
He argued that a “more joined up and collaborative approach” where the costs are shared by the various parties involved would work, but cautioned: “Whether anyone can get agreement on that remains to be seen.”
This week Mortgage Solutions revealed that a Barclays developed initiative was due to be unveiled shortly which should help ease the plight of people unable to sell their properties with cladding.
No point in blame game
Kala Sreedharan, sales and operations director at Mojo Mortgages, noted that getting a mortgage on a high-rise apartment meant a limited range of options already, but the current situation may mean the criteria becomes even tougher.
She added: “We don’t think that lenders, building management companies, or the government should be ‘blamed’ as such for potentially creating this ‘mortgage prisoner’ situation.
“We should all be working together to ensure that these problems are sorted out easily and efficiently to give more people the chance to own their own home without any problems.”