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Government updates on building safety, cladding and remediation costs for leaseholders

Here we explain the recent Government announcement on building safety and what it means for you, as far as we can tell from the detail that has been confirmed to date.

What is the latest Government position on building safety?

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, said on 10 January that in buildings between 11 and 18 metres, leaseholders will not have to pay for costs related to cladding remediation. Instead, private developers will be asked to pay to remediate cladding with a March deadline to produce a fully funded plan of action.
It is not yet clear how this will work when any such measures will be introduced or even that an agreement will be reached.
It appears from the announcements that other remediation costs such as fire doors, fire stopping, balconies and other building defects related to safety are not covered and we are waiting for this to be clarified.

  • There were a few other specific announcements which will also have an impact on leaseholders:
  • The proposed £50 a month leaseholder loan scheme for building safety service charges at buildings below 18 metres has been scrapped.
  • The consolidated advice note published in January 2020, which brought buildings below 18 metres into scope for fire safety remediation, has been removed. It has been replaced by PAS9980 from the British Standards Institute. This sets out a new method for assessing the safety of buildings which takes a more balanced view looking at the overall risk of the building rather than individual features.
  • An additional £27m will be added to the Waking Watch Relief Fund to install fire alarms in buildings that have fire safety defects.
  • The government will look at a package of mental health support for those experiencing difficulties due to the cladding crisis, as well as those with additional disabilities.

In summary, the Government is addressing the impact its previous advice has had on buildings under 18 metres and is now recommending a risk-based approach. This is a welcome change of direction, however, the announcement is just the first step
There is still a lot to clarify on how it will work in practice and this is likely to take time. Once things are clearer, we will be able to give you more information.

Who will pay for the cost of the remedial work?

The Government are making arrangements for developers to remediate any fire safety defects on their buildings and/or contribute to a fund to pay for any remediation costs. 

This is in order that leaseholders should not be recharged for any remedial work.  We are actively following Government advice regarding funding and applying for this where eligible.  However, at present funding does not apply to other issues such as timber balconies, compartmentation issues and fire doors.

There continue to be amendments to building safety legislation and the position has not yet been confirmed.  If we are unable to secure external funds we will need to recharge leaseholders under the terms of their lease. If this becomes necessary we will carry out a formal consultation and offer repayment terms. We understand that the prospect of a large bill is extremely worrying and we will do everything we can to avoid having to recharge. 

What happens next?

We will write to you again when we have had an opportunity to consider the new Government guidance and assess how it affects your building.
If you’d like to get some more information, here are a variety of links

Where can I get support?

  • If you are finding the current position distressing, you may want to visit the resident-led End Our Cladding Scandal website, which lists some useful organisations that may be able to help you: https://endourcladdingscandal.org/get-support/

  • The London Fire Brigade’s website, which has a free online tool which guides you through a fire risk assessment of your home (home visits are available for more vulnerable residents): https://www.london-fire.gov.uk/safety/the-home/home-fire-safety/

  • Alternatively, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.