Official government guidance ‘could completely stall all flat sales in England’, claim

Are agents having problems selling flats in developments where Advice Note 14 applies?

Advice Note 14 is the government guidance about the removal of combustible materials in buildings.

The note says that these materials should be removed or tested. It is not a legal requirement, but it is guidance.

Owners of higher rise buildings are told that they should take general fire precautions and ensure that external wall systems are safe.

According to Nigel Glen, of the Association of Residential Managing Agents, the consequences of this are “enormous”.

He says that one member alone has 500 stalled sales.

He adds: “It could cause the complete stalling of flat selling in England.”

That cladding could include timber, polystyrene and HPL (high-pressure laminate).

Advice Note 14 was issued last December.

It was supposed to give building owners clear advice on non-aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding systems, in the wake of Grenfell.

However after focusing on ACM cladding immediately after the Grenfell disaster, the net was widened to include other forms of cladding.

According to social housing publication Inside Housing, data shows that there are 4,031 private housing developments with timber cladding.

Inside Housing says that nearly a year after Advice Note 14 was issued, “thousands of shared owners and leaseholders are now struggling to sell or remortgage their flats as surveyors and mortgage lenders require assurances that the materials on their buildings comply with the Government’s advice”.

Should agents, building owners, sellers and buyers be concerned?

According to housing law commentator site Nearly Legal, it is “good to see people finally cottoning on to the scale of this”.

Surveyors and lenders are reportedly demanding certificates from would-be sellers showing that external walls comply with the advice note.

Some surveyors are taking the view that in the absence of a certificate, flats within a block have a value of £0.

Inside Housing says that while the issue is widespread, it does not mean a blanket halt on all sales: there have been reports of some mortgage lenders still willing to lend on affected blocks, while some cash buyers are going ahead with purchases.

Last week, EYE reported on one agent, Haslams in Reading, being fined £30,000 for not reporting suspect cladding to a buyer – who said they would have pulled out of the deal had they known.

A social media thread from yesterday highlights what could be a huge problem in the property market, while Inside Housing has carried a great deal more on an issue that until now has been associated more with the social sector than the private one.

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One Comment

  1. DASH94

    JMHO – but if you were the owner of some of these high rises – wouldn’t you want to do these tests anyway?

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