Leaseholders will be able to track their building owner’s progress on remediation through a new online service, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has announced.
Through the new Leaseholder and Resident Service, which aims to speed up the process of removing unsafe non-aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding from the highest-risk buildings, leaseholders in tower blocks will have access to updates on the status of their building’s application to the government’s Building Safety Fund.
As part of the process, leaseholders will be given a unique code to track their building’s progress.
The government said the online portal, launched today, will expose building owners who are failing to take action to fix their properties by making the process more transparent.
The move follows housing secretary Michael Gove’s building safety announcement last week, during which he promised leaseholders statutory protection from non-cladding costs.
He also said he would force developers to foot a £4bn bill to remove unsafe cladding from buildings between 11 and 18 metres tall.
The Building Safety Fund was launched in May 2020 after chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the government would be providing £1bn in funding to remove dangerous non-ACM cladding from buildings taller than 18 metres.
In 2021, the government announced that it would be increasing the funding by £3.5bn.
But the latest figures from the DLUHC, published today, show that progress is slow. None of the social housing blocks granted building safety funding have had their remediation work completed yet.
So far the government has approved £976m for the remediation of non-ACM cladding – £851m for the private sector and £125m for the social sector.
But as of 31 December 2021, the Building Safety Fund’s total expenditure, including both sectors, was only £219m.
Building safety minister Lord Stephen Greenhalgh said: “It is unacceptable that four years after the Grenfell tragedy innocent leaseholders are still living in buildings with unsafe cladding.”
He added that building owners are responsible for making their buildings safe.
“We will no longer allow them to shirk from their duties and hide behind processes and corporate loopholes.
“Everyone – including leaseholders – has a right to know what is happening with their building and to live safely,” he said.
Geeta Nanda, chair of the G15 and chief executive of Metropolitan Thames Valley, said that ensuring residents affected by building safety issues are kept up to date with information is “essential”.
“We welcome the new Building Safety Fund online portal, which will help ensure that the information being provided to residents on this critical funding support is as accurate and up to date as possible,” she said.
Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said greater transparency over the progress of the Building Safety Find is a “positive move”.
“Housing associations are committed to working with the government to tackle the building safety crisis and support all efforts to protect leaseholders from costs,” she added.
WHY HAS THE GOVERNMENT INTRODUCED THIS SERVICE?
The applicant for the BSF, usually the building owner or managing agent, is responsible for keeping leaseholders and residents updated about the progress of their building’s BSF application. Rather than waiting for information from the applicant, leaseholders and residents will be able to access information directly.
HOW CAN THE SERVICE BE ACCESSED?
Leaseholders and residents can access the Service by inputting a ‘unique building code’ for their building. All applicants have been sent information about the Service and their building code before its launch and they have been asked to share this with leaseholders and residents.
In addition, each private sector resident will be sent their building code directly via the post (20-24 Jan).
If you are a leaseholder and do not have this information, you should request it from the applicant (usually the building owner or managing agent).
HOW OFTEN WILL THE INFORMATION ON THE SERVICE BE UPDATED?
All application status updates will be published on the third week of each month.
DOES THE SERVICE INCLUDE INFORMATION ON BUILDINGS WITH ACM CLADDING?
No. The Service currently only includes buildings that are part of the Building Safety Fund (BSF) which covers unsafe non-ACM cladded buildings.
The government is however considering options for providing information on ACM cladded buildings and will review feedback on the new Service to inform decisions.
In the meantime, leaseholders and residents of buildings with ACM cladding that are being remediated should contact their responsible entity (usually the building owner or managing agent) for updates on ACM projects.
You can find out more information on the government website.