Government announcements for building safety
Announcement: 10 January 2022
On 10 January 2022, the government announced measures to ensure that leaseholders in buildings above 11 metres tall would not have to contribute to costs for work to address safety issues with any cladding on their building. At the same time it was announced that government would be issuing new building safety guidance to replace the existing advice.
L&Q firmly believes that leaseholders should not have to pay for any failings of developers or unfit building regulations. We have already committed to pay for the remediation of all blocks built by our in-house construction arm, Quadrant Construction, so these announcements are a welcome step to encourage others to do the same.
We know that many leaseholders will be keen to know what the announcements mean for them. The government must now provide building owners with the detail we need to confirm how the new funding approach will work, including what types of work the funding will cover. At present it is not clear whether the funding arrangement will also protect leaseholders from the cost of remediating non-cladding issues such as balconies.
Government also need to confirm exactly what the changes to building safety guidance are.
The government has committed to providing more detail by Easter. We will then provide an update to residents as soon as we can. For now, our Building Safety Programme will continue as planned.
Announcement: 21 July 2021
On 21 July 2021, The government announced that they believe EWS1 forms (which help prove to mortgage lenders that a property meets the latest building safety guidelines) should not be needed for lending on buildings under 18m in height.
This may mean that residents who have previously been asked to provide an EWS1 form to remortgage, staircase or sell their home may not now require one, however it is important to note that this is still at the lender’s discretion.
If your lender has asked you for an EWS1 form, and you believe that your building no longer requires one, we suggest that you ask them for further clarification as to why they are asking for the form as they must specify a specific concern to do this. If they have provided you with this detail, please contact your Property Manager for information about the next steps.
To read more on the Minister’s announcement, visit the Government website.
Please note that L&Q’s programme of building safety inspections will not be affected by this announcement as these are still required to ensure your building meets the current government building safety guidance. We will continue to write to impacted residents, as inspections are scheduled.
Announcement: 10 February 2021
On 10 February 2021, the government announced additional funding to support the removal of dangerous cladding from tall buildings. The new £3.5bn of funding is in addition to the existing Building Safety Fund of £1.6bn, bringing the total available to £5bn.
The Fund is only available for cladding works on buildings over 18 metres in height, so government also announced that it would be providing financial support for residents of buildings between four and six storeys high by developing a long-term, low-interest loan scheme. As part of the scheme, leaseholders shall not pay more than £50 a month towards the removal of unsafe cladding.
To help fund these measures, the government are planning to introduce a developer levy that will apply where developers seek permission to construct certain types of high rise buildings in England, and a new tax for the UK residential property development sector.
L&Q welcomes the news that more money is being made available for the remediation of dangerous cladding and looks forward to receiving additional detail about these funding measures. However, there is still a lot of work to do to make all affected homes safe which will take time to deliver.
At present, the new funding offer only covers the removal and remediation of cladding. It does not cover the remediation of any other building defects that might contribute to an apartment block not meeting new building safety guidelines, such as issues with cavity barriers (which restrict the movement of fire and smoke within a building) or the materials used in balcony construction.
We therefore recognise that many of our affected leaseholders will be disappointed with these announcements.
L&Q has committed £250 million to building safety works over the coming years and has launched one of the UK’s largest building safety inspection programmes. We have already protected leaseholders from over £20m of costs, by not charging for Waking Watch and fire detection systems.
As a registered charity, all of the money we make is reinvested back into our social mission, so unplanned, expensive building safety costs have the potential to severely impact this. We would welcome further government support to protect all affected leaseholders from costs and protect housing associations’ ability to continue investing in much-needed social homes.
We will be working with government and our partners in the sector to try and find additional funding solutions to help solve the cladding crisis for residents of all tenure types. In the meantime, we will continue to make applications for the Building Safety Fund where possible.
In the absence of further support from government, we have committed to exploring all options for the funding of non-cladding works and works on buildings below 18 metres high, before considering whether to pass costs on to residents. This will include investigating the possibility of seeking compensation from, making an insurance claim against, or requiring that the remedial works are done by the original developer/contractor.