PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’: Cladding Crisis | Simplify Security Breach

Andrew Stanton’s daily Property News Briefing in association with Estate Agent Networking.

Is Gove helping or hindering the cladding crisis?

Michael Gove, the current Housing Secretary and Leveller in Chief has waded into the cladding debacle with his usual aplomb, halting the initiatives of his predecessor by asking questions like ‘why should leaseholders need to underpin the cost of remediation works?’ 

Gove has also been very verbal about “cowboy” builders who have caused the problem, and he has effectively stopped the present initiative around who should be doing what with regard to getting properties safe, inhabitable, sold, rented or bought.

The problem with Mr Gove is he is great at articulating the key problems of any matter, just as he did in previous government posts, but he then tends to helicopter out to another department leaving others to sort the details and the solutions.

In direct terms, under Gove we have seen the initiative for leaseholders to shell out tens of thousands to make good properties, and the government is also on the brink of backtracking on its consolidated advice note on properties that are not high rise. This would directly feed through to how surveyors would treat them, which in turn would impact mortgage lending all the same. 

The DLUHC seems in some way to be as muddled and as opaque as its acronym. It is all very well to say we are changing direction, what Gove needs to do is outline that direction and get behind the steering wheel, as it leaves hundreds of thousands with an uncertain and potentially unsafe future.

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Conveyancing group Simplify still grapples with IT systems blackout 

It would seem that despite the heroic efforts of a number of experts, the ability for some people to transact the normal processes of conveyancing is proving difficult.

For some days, due to what has been described as a major security breach, a large volume of people in the property sector are stating that they are worried about the impact on sales that are about to exchange or have exchanged.

Simplify, which has a clutch of trading entities and a sterling reputation, has sought to pacify its affected stakeholders with communications, saying it has sufficiently restored IT systems to enable clients to move.

“The good news is that almost all contracted transactions with a fixed completion date are up to date … we have been working non-stop and have substantially increased our customer relations teams to enable us to proactively contact almost all clients who are scheduled to complete.”

The communications stated that Simplify had “several days with minimal telephone capacity, but we now have around 300 colleagues making outbound phone calls to clients and this team, who will be working full-time, into the weekend, are calling every client with an update.”

It would seem that even as of today, things are not back to normal, at a crucial time when the usual pre-Christmas rush to get deals done and all that entails.

Whilst there is no suggestion any cash or titles of properties are at risk, it is the sheer scale of the inconvenience that is proving problematic.

More so as with property chains, if one of the properties is being affected it can hold up the transaction for others in that chain.

Simplify have got a less than simple job on its hands to get things swiftly back on track.

Andrew Stanton is the founder and CEO of Proptech-PR, a consultancy for Founders of Proptechs looking to grow and exit, using his influence from decades of industry experience. Separately he is a consultant to some of the biggest names in global real estate, advising on sales and acquisitions, market positioning, and operations. He is also the founder and editor of Proptech-X Proptech & Property News, where his insights, connections and detailed analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are second to none.

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