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Boris Johnson was dealt a triple defeat in the Lords tonight over the nation’s response to the Grenfell Tower fire.
Peers voted 269-250 to implement a string of recommendations from the first phase of the public inquiry – after complaining progress was too slow.
They also backed a landmark law that would ban building owners from making residents pay for remedial fire safety work.
And finally they backed a law to create a public register of fire risk assessments – so flat-hunters will know if they’re buying a “death trap”.
All three amendments to the Fire Safety Bill passed after Labour and Lib Dem peers teamed up in the House of Lords.
But all three may be overturned at a later date in the Commons, as they were opposed by the Tory government.
Labour passed an amendment that sought to speed up recommendations from the inquiry on the blaze that killed 72 people.
The amendment would force building owners to run regular inspections of lifts and flat entrance doors, and share evacuation instructions with residents.
Despite accepting “the pace of remediation has been slow”, Housing Minister Lord Greenhalgh claimed the government had taken “decisive action”.
Housing Minister Lord Greenhalgh
(Image: Fulham Chronicle)
New law could ban building owners from making residents pay for fire safety work
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He said Labour’s amendment was “not necessary” to implement the inquiry and suggested it could slow the process down while a consultation was ongoing.
But Labour said “decisive action” was needed now. Shadow Fire Minister Sarah Jones said: “Labour will continue to press the Government to do the right thing, deliver on their promises and get the cladding ripped off urgently.
“The Government must act now to prevent such tragedy from happening again."
The other two amendments were from the Lib Dems – one on a public register of risk assessments, and the other on the cost of remedial work.
Ministers announced £1bn in March to replace unsafe cladding on tower blocks in 2020 and 2021, and say owners of leasehold flats should be protected from costs.
But building owners are still legally able to recoup costs from the owners of individual flats.
Leaseholders in one block in Manchester warned in July they were facing average bills of £78,000 per flat.
Landlords to be held more accountable under new charter in wake of Grenfell Fire
The amendment passed by the Lords would impose an all-out legal ban on passing the cost of remedial work to leaseholders or tenants.
It states: “The owner of a building may not pass the costs of any remedial work attributable to the provisions of this Act on to leaseholders or tenants of that building.”
Lib Dem peer Kath Pinnock, who put forward the amendment in the House of Lords, said: "The fact that freeholders are passing on the remediation costs is leaving many with the choice of either facing bankruptcy, as they‘re forced to pay huge fees, or selling their home for a lot less value due to the work needed to be done.
“Ministers must do more to ensure that those who had no responsibility in signing off the safety of their properties are not now being punished for those errors.”
The exemption would not apply to any flat owners who also own part of the freehold of the building, such as in Victorian terraces that are converted into flats.
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Peers backed the amendment by 275 to 262.
Baroness Pinnock’s other amendment would create a public register of fire risk assessments.
Housing Minister Lord Greenhalgh said reform was needed, but a public register could be a “disproportionate” level of regulation.
But peers backed the amendment by 284 votes to 267.