I am very pleased to see that Labour-run Wandsworth Council will be introducing a landlord licensing pilot scheme in Tooting and Furzedown. Private renters make up a significant proportion of local residents and a key part of our campaign in the local elections last year was to ensure that they get a fair deal.
This scheme will strengthen protections and rights for private tenants and I look forward to its successful trial in Tooting before a wider roll-out across the borough.
The current housing market is incredibly difficult to get into as a first-time buyer. In our local area especially, house and rent prices are daunting, and sadly the Tories are not doing enough to provide support for people or help increase the housing supply.
Labour have set out an ambitious plan for housebuilding targets to help supply the need for housing and provide security to people and their families. This would include relaxing planning restrictions to let local authorities and examining green Belt areas that could be used to build on. I fully support Labour’s ambition to have 70% of people owning their own home.
I've written to the Chief Executive of Bellway on behalf of residents at Fitzgerald and Fleming Houses on St George's Grove, many of whom have been left in limbo, unable to sell or re-mortgage their properties due to the flammable cladding that was installed by Bellway, when the houses were built.
In May, London Fire Brigade instituted a waking watch on both of the buildings due to fire risk, which residents were forced to pay for themselves. I have been working alongside Bellway resident directors in good faith for months but have been met with delay and excuses while their properties remain without a suitable facade.
My position is clear: Developers must fund remediations works on these properties and the replacement of the cladding to the new required standard. Leaseholders cannot be held liable for these costs.
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In light of the upcoming Fire Safety Bill, I would to thank every resident who has written to me with their concerns on this and for continuing to keep me updated on the cladding issues affecting their property. I recognise what an exceptionally difficult time this is and appreciate how much anxiety the cladding proposals are causing to many leaseholders.
On more than fifteen occasions, Ministers promised that leaseholders would not be landed with the costs of remedial works. Yet, people are still being put at risk, trapped in flammable buildings for a third lockdown, with leaseholders placed in an impossible position and promises broken. It is evident that the Government’s handling of the cladding crisis has lacked any sense of grip or urgency.
For this reason, the Labour Party have tabled an Opposition Day Debate on cladding for Monday, which will subsequently bring forward a vote that will call for leaseholders to be protected from the costs of remediating their blocks with dangerous cladding.
The party will also be tabling a number of amendments to the Fire Safety Bill that will aim to protect leaseholders from unfair costs through the power of the law. I am aware that many residents have been in touch to request that I support the McPartland and Smith amendment, which provides welcome clarity on the specific costs that would be prevented from being passed on to leaseholders. Labour has sought to go further on this.
As currently drafted, the McPartland and Smith amendment would not have covered blocks like Grenfell - where flammable cladding has been added at some stage following the building of the block. It only applies to defects in the original design of buildings. The Labour Party’s amendment would ensure that the cost of fire safety problems from refurbishment jobs, like the cladding on Grenfell Tower, cannot be passed on to leaseholders. Labour’s amendments also include new clauses so that the Bill protects leaseholders from the day it comes into law, instead of an unknown date in the future.
I would like to thank my colleagues in the Labour Party, Sarah Jones MP, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Thangam Debbonaire MP and Mike Amesbury MP for their hard work and commitment to addressing this large injustice on a national scale.
If any residents have any further queries on this issue, please do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss this further. In the meantime, I hope this post assures you of the steps myself and the Labour Party are taking to protect tenants and leaseholders during this cladding crisis.
I have written to the Housing Secretary to outline residents concerns about EWS1 forms and cladding.
The creation of EWS1 forms and concerns about cladding are issues I know a lot of Tooting residents are facing.
Everyone deserves the safety and security of home and I am shocked that so many local residents have found themselves in this situation.
Following discussions with local people, I have written to the Financial Conduct Authority, Aviva, the National Housing and Building Council and the Shadow Secretary of State for Housing. You can see these letters below.