Over half a million people could be living in unsellable flats

A possible six hundred thousand people are living in high-rise properties deemed to be unsafe or unsellable due to a lack of Government action and unclear advice over cladding safety, according to the Labour Party.

Analysis by the main opposition party says there are up to 600,000 people living in blocks over 18m high, many of whom are struggling to sell their homes because they cannot confirm the safety of their buildings’ cladding.

Following the Grenfell Tower fire and the focus on cladding and external walls, property owners were advised to test the materials to ensure they complied with building regulations. This has left leaseholders who own the individual flats within blocks, in some sort of limbo as they are unable to force the freeholders to have the tests done.

A shortage of skilled surveyors and a cautious approach from construction experts and lenders is seeing property values significantly downgraded. There are reports of many flats having a technical valuation rating of zero due to the uncertainties.

Labour’s analysis of the numbers affected is based on English Housing Survey data, showing the number of households living in private tower blocks above 18m, combined with official data on average household sizes.

The research was released on the same day as the Grenfell Inquiry phase one report was published. This recommends that the owners and managers of every high-rise building are required to provide details of external walls and the materials used to the local fire service.

Shadow housing secretary John Healey said:

“More than two years on from Grenfell, concerned residents in blocks around the country are still stuck in limbo, unsure whether or not their home is safe and unable to sell.”

“The Government must act to test suspect cladding, publish the results and force private block owners to remove and replace all cladding found to be unsafe.”

By Patrick Mooney, Editor