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The £1bn cladding remediation Building Safety Fund is now open for applications until 31 July 2020.

On 1 June 2020, three years after the tragic events of Grenfell Tower in June 2017, the Government Building Safety Fund (the “Fund”) has now opened for applications. The £1bn Fund was announced by the Government in the March 2020 Budget, as additional funding in 2020/2021 to meet the capital costs of removing and replacing unsafe non-aluminium composite (non-ACM) cladding. Property owners of multi-let private and social residential buildings that are 18 metres and higher which do not comply with building regulations are eligible to access the fund. It will not cover hospitals, hotels and buildings where there are no residential leaseholders. However, in January 2020, a consultation was launched by the Government to widen the scope of the ban on non-ACM cladding. Under consideration are a lowered height threshold from 18 meters to 11 meters and extending the ban to apply to hotels and boarding houses. The consultation concluded on 25 May 2020 and the outcome is eagerly awaited.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has made clear that the Fund is there to support residents, whether leaseholders or other tenants, residing within buildings with unsafe cladding, who should take comfort that proactive measures can be taken to remedy works without them having to foot substantial repair bills.

Importantly, applications to register for the Fund must be made from building owners or the legal entity responsible for making the building safe, and not from individual leaseholders.

Prospective applicants are required to register their building prior to embarking on an application to the Fund, in order for the necessary assessments to take place on both height and the type of cladding system in situ. Additionally, MHLCG expects that prior to registering for the Fund, applicants must have exhausted other funding options other than simply relying on funding by the Government or leaseholders. The Fund will meet the costs of remedying non-ACM cladding systems where building owners are unable to do so, provided MHLCG is satisfied this is the case. Registration for the fund opened for applications on 1 June 2020 and a deadline has been set for all applications to be received by 31 July 2020.

Having completed the registration process, building owners will be requested to engage in an in-depth technical analysis to determine overall eligibility. The non-ACM cladding systems that are covered by the Fund are set out in within Annex A to the prospectus outlining eligibility to the Fund, which can be found here. Typical materials that may qualify for remediation under the Fund include high-pressure laminate panels (HPL), wood and other class C/D cladding systems installed on high-rise residential buildings.

Building owners still remain legally responsible for the fire safety of their buildings, as touched on in our previous blog (please click here to view).  In blocks of flats, this responsibility will generally be the freeholder. If you are a building owner and would like to discuss your options or would like legal advice tailored to making an application to the Fund, please contact Head of Property Litigation, Joanna OsborneTim Clark or any member of the Property Litigation team.

 

Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

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