Housing Secretary Michael Gove has said that developers must agree to a £4 billion plan to fix dangerous cladding on low-rise flats by early March or force new laws to be implemented.
The cabinet minister threatened that he was “ready to take all necessary steps” to fix the “broken system” in a letter to the industry before detailing the plans on Monday.
Possible actions include restricting access to government funds and future purchases, exercising planning powers, and pursuing firms through the courts.
The proposal to reduce the scam that entraps lessees in unsafe and unsold homes comes more than four years after the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 killed 72 people.
Leaseholders in buildings between 11 m (36 ft) and 18 m (59 ft) will no longer have to take out loans to cover the cost of improvement work, despite no new money coming from the Treasury.
Instead, Mr Gove asked developers to agree to start contributing this year to cover the “full outstanding cost”, which is estimated to be £4 billion.
The housing secretary is expected to meet with cladding campaigners on Monday morning before detailing the plan in the Commons
In a letter being sent Monday to the residential property developer industry, Mr Gove set a deadline of “early March” for publicly accepting his ultimatum and providing a “fully funded action plan”.
“Our home should be a source of security and pride. For many people living in properties created by your industry in recent years, their home has become a source of misery. This must change,” he wrote.
Mr Gove said he was sure he was also committed to fixing a “broken system”, but warned he was “ready to take all necessary steps to do so”, including “if necessary So the law involves enforcing the solution”.
The commitments also included that he would have to “fund and undertake” all works on buildings higher than 18 meters, which he played a role in developing.
He was also ordered to provide comprehensive information on all buildings taller than 11 meters that have fire-safety defects and have helped construction over the past 30 years.
Campaigners welcomed the plans tentatively because they were rigged over the weekend, but developers said they should not be responsible for the cost.
A spokesperson for the End Our cladding scandal said they were “cautiously optimistic” about the plans, but added that “the devil is in the detail”, adding in the letter that the measures do not extend to “non-cladding” costs.
“It’s a welcome step in the right direction, but there’s still a long road to travel,” he said.
Stewart Beasley, acting president of the Home Builders Federation, acknowledged that leaseholders should not pay for the treatment, but said builders alone should not cover the cost.
“While home builders are committed to playing their part, many other organizations are involved in the construction of affected buildings, including housing associations and local authorities,” he said.
“The specifications for the buildings shall be as per the building rules laid down by the Government at the time of construction.
“As well as developers and the government, other parties must attend to remedial costs, not least to content manufacturers who designed, tested and sold materials that developers had purchased in good faith to be subsequently fit for purpose. Not proven.”
Shadow Housing Secretary Lisa Nandy said “promises are not a substitute for a plan” as she urged the government to move forward to protect leaseholders from costs.
“We must have legally binding protections for leaseholders in law to guard against the costs of these catastrophic failures, a certain time frame that will end this nightmare and a Secretary of State who is able to take on the resources and political will. On the strength of big money interests – and win,” the Labor MP said.