Fire risk assessments: how often must they be done?
There are no specific time periods in law for how often fire risk assessments must be done or reviewed. The...
By Ella Norman – Legal Adviser
In the Budget on 11th March 2020, the Government announced a 1-billion-pound fund, available on a first come, first served basis. The funding was made available for the remediation of unsafe non-ACM cladding systems on residential buildings in England that are 18 metres and over in height. The fund is in addition to the separate funding to remove unsafe ACM cladding systems on High Rise Residential Buildings, identified as a priority for remediation after the Grenfell Tower Fire.
The purpose of the Fund
The purpose of the fund is to make sure residents’ homes are safe. The government expects that building owners remediate unsafe cladding on buildings, without seeking funding from residents or the taxpayer. Where this is not possible the fund is designed to ensure that building owners do not fall back on leaseholders to meet the costs.
A prospectus introducing the fund was released on 26th May 2020. It sets out the buildings and non – ACM Cladding Systems, that are eligible for funding [Annex A:]; and invites potential applicants to register expressions of interest.
Registering for the fund
The registration process opened on 1st June and remains open until 31st July 2020. Once buildings are registered the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will carry out a technical assessment of the building(s) to decide eligibility for funding.
Buildings which meet the technical criteria, will then be able to apply to the fund, with full guidance and the process for doing so becoming available by the end of July 2020. In the private sector the full application will be submitted by the responsible entity.
There is no limit on the number of registrations the MHCLG will accept. However, the department will stop accepting full applications once the funding is forecast up to its maximum value of £1bn.
What can residents do?
It is important to note that residents should not submit a registration to the fund. A resident should contact the building owner or manager if they believe that they might have unsafe cladding and ask them to confirm what action they are taking.
The prospectus sets out the following action that a resident might wish to take:
- Contacting your building owner or managing agent to ask for confirmation that the cladding system on your building is safe. You can ask to see a copy of the most recent fire risk assessment for the building.
- If the cladding on your building is not safe, seek confirmation as to the actions your building owner is taking and how they intend to finance the work. if your building owner cannot meet the costs themselves or intends to charge you for the remediation, you should refer them to this fund.
- If your building owner is not taking action or intending to charge leaseholders for the remediation of a cladding system, you can notify the MHCLG using the Leaseholder feedback form providing basic details of your building, the owner or managing agent, and the type of cladding you believe is present if known to you. This form became available on the 1st of June 2020.
- If you are concerned about a fire safety risk which your building owner or managing agent is not addressing, you should contact your local fire and rescue service or local authority for advice.
The fund is open to mixed use residential and commercial developments. Building owners are encouraged to register for the fund if they are aware that their external wall system is unsafe and/or there is an uncertainty as to its construction.
What is not covered by the fund?
The fund will not meet the cost of waking watch or other interim safety measures, and will not be available for:
- Remediation work on buildings with non-ACM cladding systems in scope that had been committed to, or where work had started on site, prior to 11th March 2020.
- Other non-residential buildings, for example, hotels, hospitals and buildings where there are no residential leaseholders.
- Buildings under 18m in height (allowing for a 30cm tolerance)
The Scope of the Fund
Registration will not guarantee that the building will receive funding. In cases where it is unclear who is eligible to register, registrations should be made by the building owner. If multiple buildings are owned, including those in a single development, one registration form should be completed for each building.
Registration is open to registered providers of social housing. They do not have to have residential leaseholders to receive funding. However, funding will only be provided where remediation costs threaten the financial viability of the provider or the Housing Revenue Account. Local Authorities will be required to provide a declaration from a section 151 officer at registration phase.
Funding will be available in 2020/21 for social providers to claim from Government, a contribution to their remediation project, equivalent to the service charge increase which would otherwise be passed on to leaseholders including those in shared ownership properties. A claims process along with the full application guidance will be available in July, and registered providers should not register for the scheme in order to claim this funding.
Expressions of interest can be registered by completing the online form on the Governments’ website. As part of this registration, responsible entities are required to self-certify the eligibility of a cladding system for the fund and provide initial information on their external wall system by answering the questions in the Form at Annex B.