By Alistair Grant

THOUSANDS of Scots are living in properties they cannot sell as a result of post-Grenfell cladding issues.

MSPs heard apartment blocks in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee are among those affected by “zero valuations”, with particular hotspots around harbourside developments.

It comes after mortgage lenders adopted new safety standards in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, which caused 72 deaths.

In recent months it has emerged some flats are now being given a “zero” survey valuation due to the materials used in their construction.

Keith Denholm, director at Allied Surveyors, said thousands of properties will be affected across Scotland.

He added: “But the bottom line is, we do not know until such time as an inspection of a building has been undertaken.”

Properties affected are often blocks built in the 1990s onwards, but Mr Denholm insisted: “We don’t know the extent of the problem.”

He was giving evidence to Holyrood’s Local Government and Communities Committee, which is probing the issue.

Mr Denholm said homeowners are being left “absolutely in limbo” and “high and dry”.

He said a remediation fund has been set up to help some of those affected in England and Wales, and called for similar measures in Scotland.

Brian Smith, a partner at Simpson & Marwick solicitors, said the problem is still “relatively new” and first emerged in September.

But he warned it could begin to have a real impact on Scotland’s property market.

He told MSPs: “Scotland was kind of affected first, because the home report is carried out pre-marketing of a property, unlike south of the Border.

“So it became more apparent, but that time of year the market starts to drop off anyway.

“Estate agents will generally be telling clients to wait till the start of the new year before they bring the property to market.

“So really, we’re two months into the new year and I think this is where we’re going to start to see all these issues coming round.

“And the problem is the zero value for mortgage purposes clearly is a problem – but the biggest problem any market has is uncertainty.

“Buyers in particular don’t like uncertainty, so it’s not just around whether they can get their funding – even cash buyers looking at a property that may have a cladding issue, the advice to them is not going to be to buy it without knowing very clearly what that problem is, and what the potential liabilities for remediation will be.

“So until we’re in a point where there has been some comprehensive evaluation of the extent of the problem, and some understanding of what the remediation path is going to be, I think the market is going to continue to be affected by these uncertainties and have difficulties.”

Elsewhere, chartered building surveyor Phil Diamond said it was “crazy” that combustible materials are still being used in Scotland.

Scottish Tory housing spokesman Graham Simpson said: “It is astonishing that we do not yet have an immediate ban on combustible material in cladding, as in the rest of the UK – the SNP government must introduce this as a matter of the utmost urgency.

“It is not right that properties are being built here to a lesser standard of fire safety than in England Wales, and then owners can’t get mortgages. It’s a crazy situation. With regards to the issues preventing mortgage valuations on property with substandard cladding, the Scottish Government must immediately convene a working group of key stakeholders to solve this problem in Scotland.

“They should also work with the UK government to ensure Scots homeowners aren’t being penalised for the increased protection in the rest of the UK.

“The Scottish government must consider setting up a remediation fund to help people who now face potentially ruinous bills and keep people safe.”

But housing minister Kevin Stewart said it is “simply not true to claim Scotland has set lower standards than the rest of the UK”.

He added: “Scotland set higher standards for external wall cladding systems last year, with the trigger height for non-combustible cladding reducing from 18m to 11m in all new high rise domestic and non-domestic buildings. We have also set a higher standard for cladding systems on assembly buildings, entertainment buildings, hospitals and residential care buildings of any height, with the exception of small buildings.

“Mortgage lenders - who are independent bodies - introduced a new requirement concerning cladding and oversight, which we remain very concerned about.

“We understand the anxiety that homeowners will be experiencing due to this issue , which is why we have repeatedly urged the UK Government to resolve it urgently as regulation of the mortgage industry, alongside insurance issues, is a matter reserved to the UK Government.”