News

£200m fund for private blocks cladding replacement

9 May 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

The government has announced that it will make £200m available to remove and replace unsafe cladding from around 170 privately owned high-rise blocks, where building owners have failed to do so.

In an announcement today, communities secretary James Brokenshire said he would call time on “reckless” building owners who have failed to take action.

Following the Grenfell Tower fire, the government identified 176 private high-rise residential buildings with unsafe ACM cladding. But according to the most recent data compiled by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, only 10 of these buildings have completed work to replace the cladding.

The government will fully fund the urgent replacement of aluminium composite material (ACM) on private high-rise buildings where it has not yet been replaced. As a condition of funding, which will be open for three months, the government will require the building owner to take “reasonable steps” to recover the costs from those responsible for the presence of the unsafe cladding.

It said the move would “eliminate excuses used by some building owners” and protect leaseholders from the costs.

Prime minister Theresa May said: “It is of paramount importance that everybody is able to feel and be safe in their homes. That’s why we asked building owners in the private sector to take action and make sure appropriate safety measures were in place.

“And we’ve seen a number of private building owners doing the right thing and taking responsibility, but unfortunately too many are continuing to pass on the costs of removal and replacement to leaseholders.

“Today I can confirm we will now be fully funding the replacement of cladding on high-rise private residential buildings so residents can feel confident they are secure in their homes.”

Brokenshire said: “Although temporary measures are in place to ensure people living in these buildings are safe, too many owners are treating this as a permanent fix. Others are trying to pass on the costs to residents by threatening them with bills running to thousands of pounds.

“While some building owners have been swift to act, and I thank them for doing the right thing, I am now calling time on the delay tactics of others. If these reckless building owners won’t act, the government will.”

The government has already fully funded similar work in social housing developments but said private developers and freeholders have been too slow to act, while leaseholders have been threatened with footing the bill for the costs, resulting in delays.

Building owners and developers who have already fully funded the remediation of buildings are Pemberstone, Aberdeen Asset Management, Barratt Developments, Fraser Properties, Legal & General, Mace and Peabody.

Comments

This seems to differentially prejudice those responsible private owners in favour of those not so responsible; and put the burden on the tax payer. This seems fundamentally inequitable.
If the government feels that it is right to mandate the replacement work across the private sector as well as taking action in its own public sector, then it could provide a positive incentive (eg a temporary tax break) whilst also wielding a stick against those who neglect their responsibilities; right up to compulsory purchase.
However, the BRE and others who firstly establish our regulations and those who are expected to enforce them had better improve their game to provide both effective, applied standards and a level playing field.

Steve Frizell, 9 May 2019

Let me get this straight: landlords can't attempt to recover the cost of remediation from their leaseholders.

Government is going to make £200m available for 170 projects. That seems like good value procurement. Quite how many contractors capable of undertaking this task, and with PI in place to permit them to do so, are currently sitting around twiddling their thumbs?

Landlords are expected to take reasonable steps to recover the costs from "those responsible" for the cladding being there in the first place.

Will "reasonable steps" include asking leaseholders to bear the costs of taking a complicated case to court, then?

Talk about kicking a can up the road.

Chris Pateman, 9 May 2019

should the tax payers fork up for construction failure that Is the responsibility of the owners

Sheila, 9 May 2019

Why should the taxpayer foot the bill??
It is my understanding that the 'Freeholder' was responsible for the structure/fabric of a building, and therefore it should only be a loan to these companies who quite clearly won't accept their responsibility. They should foot the bill and take it up with their insurers, their advisors and specifiers under latent defects or professional negligence. these companies were happy to profit from their leaseholders who were totally innocent of any blame.

RoyA, 9 May 2019

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