As Flammable-Cladding Crisis Crushes Prices at Low End of UK Housing Market, Bank of England Frets about Contagion, Banks

The BoE is assessing if contagion from this scandal could spread to the broader housing market and cause a new financial crisis.

By Nick Corbishley for WOLF STREET:

The Bank of England is now fretting about the impact the UK’s flammable-cladding crisis could have on broader home prices in the UK and what that means for banks. New data shows that affected properties — and there are up to 1.3 million of these flats — sell for as little as one third of what the owner had paid.

The BoE is concerned about the banks that sit on loans backed by those properties and is assessing whether contagion from this scandal could spread to the broader housing market and cause a new financial crisis.

The BoE’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) has surveyed mortgage-lenders on their exposure to leasehold flats with fire risks. And it is asking lenders for regular updates.

The crisis, now in its fourth year, has uncovered a litany of fire safety issues afflicting high-rise and medium-rise buildings. And it’s the apartments’ leaseholders — the people who own the apartments, but not the land, and who hold zero responsibility for the problems — who will have to foot the bill to rectify them. Many can’t afford to. Some are facing bankruptcy.

With banks refusing to offer mortgages on apartments in these buildings, and with cash buyers demanding crippling discounts, even selling the unit is not really an option.

In the wake of the fire at the Grenfell Tower of June 2017, which resulted in the deaths of 72 people, up to 1.3 million leaseholders in the UK discovered that the buildings in which they own their flats may have also been rigged with flammable cladding and insulation materials.

They’ve had to pay hundreds of pounds a month — in addition to the mortgage payments and other costs — to cover the costs of round-the-clock fire-patrols to make sure the building they occupy doesn’t suddenly go up in flames. Home insurance costs have soared. Some have also had to pay for a safety inspection. And if their building doesn’t make the grade, they have to pay tens of thousands more to have the flammable insulation and cladding materials replaced and other fire risks remediated.

“Leasehold” arrangements are still common in England, particularly with regard to apartment buildings. When an apartment is purchased as a leasehold, the buyer is really a tenant with a tenancy agreement that typically lasts for up to a century.

The “freehold” — the building and the land — belongs to somebody else, usually the developer, a financial entity the developer sold it to, or a large landowner such as the Queen or the Duke of Westminster. They are able to extract annual rent on those assets.

Under leasehold law, owners of the flats are liable for the costs. Over the past 12 months, apartments in many multi-occupancy buildings, even those of four stories or fewer, have required a so-called external wall system (EWS1) form in order to qualify for a mortgage. But many of the buildings are still waiting for inspection, leaving their occupants trapped in financial limbo, in buildings that may also be a firetrap.

Up to 1.3 million flats, including in thousands of recently built structures, are currently unmortgageable. These properties are at the low end of the housing ladder. And they are all but impossible to sell, without plunging their current leaseholders into a deep loss. That this low end of the housing market is beginning to seize up as lenders refuse to offer mortgages on any multi-occupancy buildings that pose even the slightest fire risk is threatening to disrupt the entire property market.

Now attention is turning to the potential impact this could have on the wider financial system. A study by the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership (LKP), cited by The Times, has found that of the flats in buildings with fire risks that had gone to auction since December 2019, about 80% failed to sell at all, or sold at discounts of up to 67% from the price the owner had originally paid.

For example, a one-bedroom flat in Manchester failed to sell last month despite being listed for half the £330,000 its owner had paid in 2017. In another example, a two-bedroom flat at The Decks, an award-winning design with flammable cladding, sold at auction for £52,000 last year, 62% lower than the price its owners had paid (£134,450) in 2008.

The UK government has so far pledged £5 billion to help remediate fire-risk flats but only in buildings above 18 meters. Official estimates put the total cost at £15 billion, though even that could be on the low side. Colmore Tang Construction, a contractor that has priced remedial projects on more than 20 typical developments in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and the Midlands, believes the final figure is likely to be closer to £50 billion.

The government has gone out of its way to protect those most responsible for fire safety issues, including the developers that designed the fire-hazard buildings, the contractors that built them, the manufacturers that created and marketed the highly flammable cladding and insulation, many of which are Conservative Party donors, and the safety bodies and regulators that looked the other way as the multi-story death-traps were erected. MPs in the House of Commons have voted a total of five times in the past few months, including twice this week not to pass the costs onto developers and manufacturers.

In the case of fire-risk buildings lower than 18 meters high, leaseholders are to receive no assistance whatsoever beyond the offer of a long-term low-interest loan to cover the costs.

Average costs include 24-hour fire patrols (£3,972 a year), soaring buildings insurance (up 400%, or £1,087 a year) and repairs of flammable cladding (£22,511) and other fire risks, such as wooden balconies (£25,671). This adds up to more than three years’ total disposable income for flat-owners in Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and Liverpool, LKP found, based on Office for National Statistics data. Leaseholders are already receiving bills for remediation work they cannot afford to pay.

In many cases, the additional debt will sink leaseholders deep into negative equity, meaning they will still not be able to sell their apartment without incurring a significant loss even after the cladding and insulation have finally been removed.

The scale of the crisis is big, but it’s still unclear how big. For the moment, the rest of the UK’s housing market is buoyant, with average prices rising 7.1% compared to a year ago. But the bottom layer of the housing market is seizing up as lenders refuse to offer mortgages on any multi-occupancy buildings that pose this type of fire risk.

Yet even as all of this is happening, new data suggests that three-quarters of cladding systems being installed on new medium-rise buildings completed in 2019 and 2020 still used combustible materials. The government had proposed banning the use of such materials in these buildings but hasn’t actually followed through with legislation. The data – from an analysis by non-combustible insulation manufacturer Rockwool of figures from construction database Glenigan – also shows that 112 other potentially high-risk buildings had been built with combustible rainscreen systems during the same period. By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET.

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  69 comments for “As Flammable-Cladding Crisis Crushes Prices at Low End of UK Housing Market, Bank of England Frets about Contagion, Banks

  1. Artem says:

    What happens in case of leasholder bankruptcy? Is the freeholder ever on the hook for anything?

    • Joe Saba says:

      free loader you mean

      of course I WOULD INVEST IN MANY
      if) only 1 thing – GOVT ALLOWS ME TO SAFELY DISPOSE OF said problem

      but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO – our way or highway city/county

      bag this, test that

      a SMALL FIRE(internal damage to contents) ie mostly smoke damage and FIRE MEN hosing down 2 unit via attic

      so insurance tested and it was hot – ie asbestos

      $50,000+++++(more like $75) later we can now start slow process of getting permits – 6-10 weeks, hire contractors- 18 jobs ahead of you
      and then and only then paint and put in new tenant

      fire was 10/2020 – we have bare studs inside duplex
      and now lumber has tripled

  2. polistra says:

    The cladding was completely unnecessary for any real architectural or insulating purpose. It was required by environmental laws. Anyone could have noticed that the cladding was made of ROCKET FUEL, but that didn’t bother the regulators.

    • 2banana says:

      There seems to be a bunch of basic and logical questions that go unanswered on this issue.

      Which, usually, means it was a political decision.

    • robert says:

      Sort of like the urea formaldehyde insulation disaster in Canada some years ago. The Feds subsidized and otherwise motivated people to put UFI in their houses to save fuel and the planet, then after people started getting sick they banned it, rendering the treated houses unsaleable until the UFI was removed, not a cheap process. There’s a clause in all R/E offers in which the seller (to the best of their knowledge, anyway – meaningless) warrant that the house was not treated with UFI.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      No one wants to buy an apartment in a bare concrete or steel-frame building, for lots of reasons, not just looks. They all have some kind of cladding, from fake brick to glass.

    • fajensen says:

      Suure. Evil legislators made them install flammable plastic even though we all know that People want and deserve the damp, mould and penicillin resistant tuberculosis that goes with an un-environmental concrete building!

      How many years of unbroken Tory government does it take before they become responsible for anything?

      • NARmageddon says:

        This seems like hyperbole to me. How is concrete “un-environmental” and causing ” damp, mould and penicillin resistant tuberculosis”?

        • SwissBrit says:

          Not sure about the last three claims, but I read recently that concrete cannot be recycled; once a poured concrete building comes to the end of its life, the broken up concrete simply ends up being crushed and used as land fill, or simply rubble. There may be a few other uses for it, but not many, certainly not enough .

    • richarda says:

      “It was required by environmental laws.”
      Part of the Green Climate Revolution and the push to reduce CO2 emissions. Laws were passed without regard to best commercial practice, with the assumption that by the time the building construction was completed, commercial pressures would cause development of the practices and materials that met Building Standards for safety and performance.
      A big share of the responsibility lies with the activists that pushed AGW back around 2012 and with the politicians that were and are too lazy and too compromised to question what they were signing.
      It is all very well to point to Grenfell, the developer, the various companies and the Building Control, but this is far from a one off. It gets complicated very quickly.
      And it is not the only malinvestment currenly ongoing thanks to artificially low interest rates.

      • w says:

        Reduce co2 by planting plants.Lux tax on the wealthy,super concerned about environment’s yachts,castles,villas,estates,helicopters,planes,leerjets,island getaways.Wealthy fake concern for the environment is Laughable.

    • NARmageddon says:

      >>the cladding was made of ROCKET FUEL

      This kind of hype is plain disinformation. Yes, some rocket fuel is made in part from aluminum. So are soda cans and many other things.

      Just to be careful, though, I googled “grenfell rocket fuel” and I found the sentence.

      >>Adding water to an aluminum fire is like adding “rocketfuel” to the existing flames.

      Okay, so there is a point here that when HOT aluminum gets sprayed with water, there will be a strong exotherm chemical reaction, but still.

      Do you see how you could have been informative instead of just shooting glib disinformation from the hip?

      Reference: Thermodynamics of Tower-Block Infernos: Effects of Water on Aluminum Fires

      https://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/22/1/14/htm

  3. Tom Jones says:

    Just like here…”money over lives” seems to be the motto of the politically well connected… screwing the masses who ALWAYS get caught holding the bag. Theft by political fiat.

  4. timbers says:

    It would be a real shame if Banks take a hit because too many lower working folks got screwed at the same time.

    In the US around 2008-2009, the solution to a similar problem was called “foaming the runway” to pace the spiral downward into homelessness and bankruptcy, of working folk. Not stop, fix, are bring about justice. But slow it down and pace it, so the banks and financiers didn’t get hurt.

    I have no doubt a similar solution for for the banks in UK will be happen.

    • Javert Chip says:

      The US certainly isn’t perfect, but we’re lightyears ahead of silly-ass royalty ‘owning” your freehold (except primarily in Hawaii), let alone that freehold owners and manufactures are not liable, and, most of all, that politicians have had any votes (let alone 5) to “protect” freehold owners and manufactures.

      This is yet another golden example of BIG GOVERNMENT..the bigger it gets, the less accountable it becomes.

      • timbers says:

        “This is yet another golden example of BIG GOVERNMENT…”

        Or maybe another example of government being too small?

        “The government has gone out of its way to protect those most responsible for fire safety issues, including the developers that designed the fire-hazard buildings, the contractors that built them, the manufacturers that created and marketed the highly flammable cladding and insulation, many of which are Conservative Party donors, and the safety bodies and regulators that looked the other way as the multi-story death-traps were erected. MPs in the House of Commons have voted a total of five times in the past few months, including twice this week not to pass the costs onto developers and manufacturers.”

        Corporate donations to “big govmit” were once banned in this country and in many states (like Montana) until…you guessed it…the Ivy League geniuses on our Supreme Court reveled to us – in their infinite corruption I mean wisdom – that corporations are people, therefore can bride – I mean lobby – government officials as much as they want.

        • Mike G says:

          This. Another “triumph” of Thatcherism ideologically gutting regulations, specifically the Building Act of 1984 reducing building regulations from 306 pages to a freedom-loving 24.
          There’s a reason this flammable cladding wasn’t banned in the UK when it was forbidden almost everywhere else.

      • Auldyin says:

        JC
        With you on what you say. USA was supposed to be an escape from all that landed gentry BS. Legally I’m still a ‘subject’ and not a ‘citizen’ in 2021 for God sake. It worries me that you guys seem to be diluting the ‘Beacon on the Hill’ with all your oligarchs re-establishing privileges for the few again.
        On cladding, it was a vociferous ‘green’ lobby that pressured everybody in building to ‘do something’ to prevent ‘Global warming’. Nobody is putting the blame where it lies because you’re never allowed to say it.
        There is a bigger issue to come. For 150yrs walls had cavities to prevent dampness and water ingress but the ‘Greens’ wanted ‘something done’ so all the cavities were filled with fibre-glass or paper to the absolute horror of every building craftsman over 60yrs old. What bets a ‘dampness’ plague in the next few years? Don’t blame the old traditional builders they have seen their lifetime’s traditions cast aside by ‘experts’ and ‘green’ fads.

  5. 2banana says:

    If only there was a way technology could do this at a fraction of the cost…

    “They’ve had to pay hundreds of pounds a month — in addition to the mortgage payments and other costs — to cover the costs of round-the-clock fire-patrols to make sure the building they occupy doesn’t suddenly go up in flames.”

    • Nic says:

      Exactly! Well put… no doubt some sort of regulatory problem getting in the way of common sense!
      Nic

  6. 2banana says:

    I don’t if you were trying for a Mark Twain Award…but well done if so.

    “an award-winning design with flammable cladding…”

  7. 2banana says:

    From the scant details of the article.

    It was for 4M pounds since 2006. Divided by 32 members.

    A whole 8,300 pounds a year per member.

    And the article does not say the manufacturers did not donate to other parties either and how much. Interesting details to leave out.

    A bigger question is what are the existing fraud, defective products and liability laws in the UK?

    “the manufacturers that created and marketed the highly flammable cladding and insulation, many of which are Conservative Party donors,”

  8. MCH says:

    Heh, sucks to have no rights to the land. At least it goes to show that this is good for the queen…. and soon Charles et al. Property of the Queen.

    Is there any opportunity for ordinary people to be freehold? Or are the prices that far out of reach in England.

    • cas127 says:

      It really does seem like a literally feudal relationship…on the hook for many/most/all operational costs…but no true ownership, merely a finite leasehold.

      But, in the end, you have to wonder how long such idiocy can last (especially now that people are paying attention and realize that “all those legal papers” really do matter).

      Britain proper is small and historically feudal, but…you do have to think enough impoverished nobles from 1700 to yesterday have actually sold off, so that there is enough “marketable” land to allow for a SFH mkt that allows for land ownership.

      “Freehold” situation probably made much worse by huge over concentration of best jobs in London area.
      (but see Covid/Zoom diaspora).

      • MCH says:

        You know though, at the end of the day, it all belongs to the government. EMINENT DOMAIN.

        If you don’t like it, we’ll ask the county sheriff to escort you off the property and put a fence around it. MUHAHAHAHAHA.

        Fortunately, that is still challengeable in court, but the way we’re headed, we’ll be like the PRC soon. Cause, it’s for the good of the people.

    • Sunpearl71 says:

      When buying houses, it’s almost always freehold and can be in Terraced, Semi-Detached and Detached forms of construction.

      • Wisoot says:

        From the crown estate website: Under our legal system, the Monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II), as head of state, owns the superior interest in all land in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In most cases, this is usually irrelevant but it can become relevant if a freehold property becomes ownerless. If this happens, freehold land may, in some circumstances, fall to the monarch as the owner of the superior interest.

        Solution: Change the legal system. Maritime to Common Law.

    • Mike G says:

      They exported the same system to Hong Kong. All land is government-owned leasehold, though lease terms can be up to 999 years.

      • MCH says:

        Heh, thank the British for being the original communists.

        Now we know where Marx and Lenin got those wonderful ideas from.

        Hmmm, does the lease term change every time there is a new buyer, I wonder. It must right, otherwise someone will eventually get the short end of the stick.

        • ChrisR says:

          The lease does not change or extend every time there is a new buyer. The buyer will have to approach the freeholder for an extension to the lease. Could easily cost the interested lessee £20k-£30k or more, if they want a longer term. But if the buyer needs mortgage finance in UK the banks are very reluctant to lend against leases of less than 70 years to expiry, they usually want 125 years. As a result the pool of potential buyers reduces. And the leasehold price will usually weaken to reflect this.

        • MCH says:

          @ChrisR

          Thank you for the education. Wow, what an interesting system. I suppose it really does pay to be a landed gentry. At the end of the lease term, all that you’ve put in is essentially worthless. So, this is basically the greater fool theory extended out over a long period of time. Because there is actually a time decay component in the value of the holding.

          Makes this sounds more like a long dated option than outright ownership.

        • Mojer says:

          MCH

          What you say is not wrong, in fact due to the great reinitialisation promoted by Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum, you will own nothing but you will all be happy

        • SwissBrit says:

          Leaseholds basically mean that you get the money from the sale of the land without actually selling the land; makes sense if you’re the landowner, but not so much if you’re the tenant.
          A lot of new-build housing estates were recently being sold as leasehold properties, but the leaseholds were often later packaged up and sold off to various firms who announced their intention to gradually increase the ground rent on an annual basis, often to the point where in future the homeowners would not be able pay the rent, nor could they feasibly sell the house to escape the obligation, as who would buy under such conditions?

    • Whatsthepoint says:

      It’s really mainly in Central London and multistory buildings…..the Queen is probably lowest on the freehold totem pole…actually the biggest freehold owner is the Duke of Westminster followed by Earl Cadogan and then probably the Church of England and the Catholic Church. In the States condos and co-ops don’t own freehold. The Queen gives grace and favour homes to her employees….what does Sleepy Joe do?

  9. 2banana says:

    You gotta ask…

    What competent engineer or architect or project manager would still be using this stuff in construction projects? Do they really need a law to tell them that this is a very bad idea?

    And what sane leaseholders would ever sign the dotted line to buy and live there and be subject to basic unlimited liability to fix this issue?

    Is this like a British culture thingy???

    “Yet even as all of this is happening, new data suggests that three-quarters of cladding systems being installed on new medium-rise buildings completed in 2019 and 2020 still used combustible materials. The government had proposed banning the use of such materials in these buildings but hasn’t actually followed through with legislation.”

    • stan6565 says:

      2b

      When a buyer buys this type of property, he/she/them relies on a survey carried out by the lender’s surveyor or their own surveyor. That surveyor must be a chartered professional with professional qualification, like MRICS, and such surveyor’s advices will always be underwritten by a professional indemnity insurance.

      There is a clear negligence claim to be pursued.

      Leaseholders in each and every building block that has been clad with deadly materials would have to get together and launch a simultaneous legal action against the insurers that underwrote the negligent surveyors.

      I am not a litigation solicitor but only just a poor old consulting engineer, but I know enough about litigation when it is interspersed with building defects, that even I could bring an action together on behalf of the injured parties.

      But, the injured parties have to get their act together first. And only when they have a clear direction where they want to go, sue.

  10. Mendocino Coast says:

    politically well connected ;
    I like that sounds like a broken record right here

  11. In the US there would be some kind of government bailout of these folks. There would be fines and rescinding of access to government subsidies for the owners, versus the tenants. Then the Treasury would make up the difference in remediation costs. The land ownership gambit (for the benefit of the royal family) sounds vaguely like the American trailer park business model, which is a cesspool of financial abuse, primarily where the state legislatures are conservative and do nothing to remedy the problem. Sounds to me like the Brits have institutionalized the problem. US mobile home manufacturers are regulated for use of chemicals, fire retardants, and formaldhyde, as a matter of course. This sounds like a failure of financial liability and health and safety regulations.

  12. SpencerG says:

    That last paragraph is the most disturbing to me. The UK government is simultaneously paying to mitigate the costs of preventing another Grenfell-type fire… while also not implementing laws to stop those types of building materials being used inappropriately in new construction???

    I think in America we like to imagine that “other” democracies (or even dictatorships) have better leadership than our own. But I have been in a multitude of countries around the world over the past four decades, and the simple truth is that most politicians talk a good game more than they play one. It is hard to get them to take action unless they perceive a threat to THEMSELVES.

  13. Carlos Leiro says:

    I read

    A prominent investor’s apparent suicide after his financial empire collapsed is being mourned as a Wall Street tragedy.

    Shortly before 1 p.m. Monday, Charles de Vaulx entered the posh Midtown tower at 717 Fifth Ave. that had long housed the offices of International Value Advisers, an investment firm founded 14 years ago, according to police.

    Minutes later, de Vaulx — who built IVA into a financial powerhouse with $20 billion in assets at its peak before it abruptly liquidated last month
    Is he and International Value adviser a a bussines important?

    • MonkeyBusiness says:

      Exaggerated reporting. His financial empire did not “collapse”. He was a deep value investor and he refused to change his ways. I am not blaming him, but unlike myself, he is in the business of making money for other people, so he had the obligation to do what’s right for his clients and not stick to a single principle.

      So basically his clients deserted him one by one because they were not making money.

    • Mike G says:

      He was the portfolio manager of First Eagle mutual funds (formerly Society Generale) where I have owned shares for many years (which is still doing very well). He was a superstar fund manager when he left to go independent a dozen years ago. Sad.

  14. Petunia says:

    I don’t understand why this isn’t covered by the fire insurance on the building. The insurance company knew what was used in the building’s construction.

    • MarMar says:

      Or why the leaseholders can’t sue the developers …

    • Auldyin says:

      P
      So far as I can understand a very complicated case, the building was certified as compliant with the govt regs.
      The insurance co’s, although having input to drafting of the Regs, become entitled to assume that there is no exceptional risk if a building is certified.
      I believe all the regs are being reviewed by govt as a result of this unfortunate incident.

      • Petunia says:

        It the building was built to code and passed inspection, and it was insured on that basis, it is implied all components are covered. The owners are being defrauded by the regulators and insurance companies. Not a surprise in the Golden Age of Fraud.

    • NARmageddon says:

      >> I don’t understand why this isn’t covered by the fire insurance on the building.

      There are two unrelated issues here:

      1. The compensation of Grenfell apartment owners after fire.

      2. The compensation of apartment owners in buildings with similar cladding

      The 2nd issue is not about fire insurance.

  15. jrmcdowell says:

    “MPs in the House of Commons have voted a total of five times in the past few months, including twice this week not to pass the costs onto developers and manufacturers.”

    In the US, a dispute like this would be settled in the courts with class action lawsuits and not in the political arena where (larger) conflicts of interest reside.

    • timbers says:

      “In the US, a dispute like this would be settled in the courts with class action lawsuits…”

      And, the Ivy League educated geniuses on the US Supreme Court have a pattern of steadily obliterating the option of class action lawsuits…so that each and every single person would have to file separately. Which is prohibitively expensive, and uneven in outcome.

    • Wisoot says:

      The MP’s are doing some work? You’re kidding right? Debate waiting times are a year or more!

  16. Yort says:

    “Home insurance costs have soared.”

    With the climate changing, home insurance costs will soar across the entire globe. I just had $36,000 of hail damage and $22,000 of freeze damage to an investment property in Texas in the last two months alone. House insurance has tripled on that property in 10 years….because it is hard to protect a house against hail that dents 22 gage raised seam commercial thickness steel roofing. Europe has lots of hail storms so I will need to invest in European rubber shingles?
    Yet Texas has drought induced wildfires so maybe plastic/rubber isn’t a wise choice for fire proof roofing…HA

    Perhaps we should all just bury our houses underground, bunker style…¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • 2banana says:

      Wow.

      So there was never any hail or wildfires in Texas 50 years ago? 100 years? 200 years? 1000 years?

      Why does beach front property still go up in value?

      Why do even the most woked buy and live on beaches?

      ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      • Mojer says:

        “Why does beach front property still go up in value?”

        It is not because everyone wants to have a view of the sea and that few can afford it, BTW with a tsunami it is not the best place.

      • rick m says:

        There was hail in Dallas through the sixties frequently in stormy seasons. It hurt. Not much at all in Bavaria in the seventies, their weather seems to be getting a little more radical than I remember
        Always understood housing in the U.K. to be primarily political in nature (council housing)small crowded country, I read that you’re never farther than seventy miles from the ocean there. The flammable cladding is pretty bad dereliction of professional responsibility even before the implied Conservative backscratching. Aren’t the architects and engineers bonded? And isn’t the function of bonding to pay for contract-based screwups to make the parties to the contract whole? Byzantine “ownership”, getting all beans and no franks. Much of the country looks like a Smiths video, maybe real ownership would help.

    • Anthony says:

      Actually Yort,
      I have a freehold bungalow near the centre of Manchester UK and because of our mild climate and internet competition, my house/contents insurance has dropped nearly every year for the last decade to less than £200 a year. We do, I admit, have very mild climate which basically is, moderate rain with bits of cold wind, hardly any snow and the odd warm sunny day.

      We would like more sun but we are 53 degrees north and live on an island in the middle of the Atlantic………..C’est la vie…….

      • Auldyin says:

        A
        Don’t knock it.
        I’m 250 mls north of you and love the North sea storms. Beats watching plain blue skies everyday!

  17. 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

    the Great Fire and the Blitz have obviously faded from the public memory…

    may we all find a better day.

  18. ChrisR says:

    The Grenfell Tower fire and the deaths of 72 people is a grotesque political scandal. The point being, for every Grenfell tower, there are thousands of others. The people inhabiting them are typically people lower down the income scale. in other words, powerless and forgotten. But all that, “out of sight, out of mind” mentality does to the rest of the uninterested population is make them ignorant to another all too predictable possibility, “but for the grace of god, therego I.”

  19. Ian says:

    This story basically sums up the UK today in its entirety. Protect those that should not be and fleece those that need protection and all as a result of lax regulation to start with. The government cannot nail the contractors etc as they allowed it in the first place so the property owner gets it in the neck. They are probably mostly landlords anyway who are regarded as lower than vermin by the same government who encouraged a vast increase in landlords doing buy to let all due to interest rates being decimated and kept low too long.

    • Andrew Streit says:

      Totally agree with this. Morally, this one is obviously wrong. But Blow Joe as I call him doesn’t give two monkeys. I am hoping he gets overturned at the next election, but the other options don’t bring me much hope.

  20. IanCad says:

    The UK needs to ditch its useless “Building Regulations” and adopt the IBC (International Building Code)
    The Grenfell inquiry continues apace – possibly for another year. The janitor will face the full wrath of the law.

  21. CreditGB says:

    “The Bank of England is now fretting about the impact the UK’s flammable-cladding crisis could have on broader home prices in the UK and what that means for banks.”

    But somehow, demanding that all transportation, manufacturing, and commercial construction be converted to “BREEAM” (LEEDS in US) status is not going to produce any big problems.

    How wonderfully selective they are.

  22. CreditGB says:

    Something similar to asbestos materials, except cladding is remarkably easier to access and remediate. Volatile cladding will be gone, recycled into new Teslas in 5 to 10 years.

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