People with fire defective homes in Wales call on Welsh Government to make faster changes

People living in homes that are not considered fire safe are calling on the Welsh Government to make faster changes.

Mark Thomas, who lives in Cardiff Bay, said his home is affected by this and whilst work has been done to make them “as safe as possible”, his flat does still not meet certain criteria according to his insurance company.

Why are these houses deemed unsafe?

After the Grenfell disaster in 2017, housing quality across England and Wales was looked at and some types of cladding were removed.

However, seven years on, Mark and many others are still living in homes that have wooden or other types of cladding which is viewed as unsafe by insurance companies.

Additionally, many of these properties have missing fire breaks in the walls that divide the wall and are usually made of concrete that separates fire from flammable material.

Although the Welsh Government has taken steps to instruct developers to make changes, Mark and others said the results have been “disappointing”.

In 2022, England introduced a rule that people living in these types of buildings were able to take the building contractors to court in order to get their homes to the required standard.

However, the Welsh Government voted against doing the same as England and instead opted in 2023 that Welsh residents had to wait on legislative powers and made an agreement with developers that would need to fix the residents’ issues “at pace”.

Mark is the head of the action group, Ripoff Redrow, who fight for the rights of people experiencing these housing problems.

Ripoff Redrow protesting outside a building deemed unsafe in Cardiff Bay

He said: “Our message to the Welsh Government is that the Welsh Government and developers contract has not fixed the problem and we continue to remain living in buildings that are still unsafe and we desperately need the Welsh Government to take far stronger action in dealing with developers who are not remediating at pace”.

Robert Nicholls lives in Swansea and is also in a home deemed unsafe. He said everything has been extremely slow and despite the agreement between the Welsh Government and the building developers being made in March 2022, it was last week that his housing developer came to do the first survey to identify the problems.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Under the terms of the Welsh Government’s Contract, quarterly monitoring takes place with developers, which includes scrutiny of current progress, future plans, and communications.

“Works to address fire safety issues can be complex, requiring specialist skills and appropriate permissions to undertake the work, which can take time.  However, we are working with developers and others to break down any potential barriers to ensure works are progressed as quickly as possible. This includes taking action should the terms of the contract not be met.

“We encourage Responsible Persons to work collaboratively with developers to allow works to progress at pace.”