Government announcement on building safety and cladding costs for leaseholders in medium rise buildings


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 would 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 It has been replaced by PAS9980 from the British Standards Institute.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.
  • 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 had previously announced a loan scheme for buildings below 18 metres to pay for building safety work in certain circumstances. Now developers are being asked to pay for the cost of remediating cladding, the loan scheme has been scrapped and will hopefully be replaced with the funded developer action plan.
 

What about the EWS1 certificate for my building?

Many lenders require an EWS1 form for buildings below 18 metres before they will offer a mortgage. This may affect your ability to sell, remortgage or staircase your property. We will not be able to provide you with an EWS1 form for your building until we have considered the further Government guidance referred to above, and if necessary, carried out any investigations/remediation. These investigations, if required, would be planned and carried out on a risk basis.
 
 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:

  • Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ announcement
Government sets out new plan to protect leaseholders and make industry pay for the cladding crisis - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
 
  • BBC Newsnight 10/01/22, cladding coverage starts at around 29.30 and lasts 10 minutes
Cladding: Why is it unsafe and will flat owners be refunded? - BBC News
 
  • Leaseholders will not have to pay to fix any fire risks, Government pledges – The Guardian.
Leaseholders will not have to pay to fix any fire risks, Government pledges | Grenfell Tower fire | The Guardian
 
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/