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Enforcement teams bolstered to hasten cladding replacement projects

20 December 2022

MORE BUILDING owners will be held to account for fire safety repairs at high-rise properties thanks to an expansion in council enforcement teams. Backed by more than £8 million in central Government funding, local enforcement units will benefit from greater resources to pursue those freeholders who are dragging their heels and refusing to begin repairs.

Councils have already begun a crackdown through their own teams, but with extra support on offer they will now be able to provide more leaseholders with a safe and secure home.

This funding made available by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will be split among 59 councils in England and prioritised for those with the highest number of unsafe buildings. There will be a particularly keen focus in London, Manchester and Birmingham.

Relentless pursuit

Lee Rowley, the Minister for Building Safety, commented: “Building owners must ensure that essential cladding repairs are enacted as quickly as possible and we will be relentless in pursuing those who do not observe this desire. We are bolstering council enforcement operations such that they’re better equipped to make the most of the powers they have to hold freeholders to account and prevent the latter from dragging their heels. I look forward to working with councils on keeping up the pressure on freeholders.”

Councillor Dora Dixon-Fyle, Cabinet member for community safety at Southwark Council, informed Fire Safety Matters: “We’ve been taking enforcement action against private residential building owners who haven’t completed necessary cladding work for some years now. This is part of our thorough fire safety measures that look to keep people safe. However, we have far more high-rise buildings than many other London Boroughs. That being the case, this new funding will support a much needed expansion of our work.”

Building Safety Act

The Building Safety Act 2022 makes it clear that building owners must fix their own buildings and that developers are the first in line to pay to protect leaseholders from repair bills. The additional funding from Government will help to ensure freeholders cannot escape their responsibilities.

More than 45 of the UK’s biggest house builders have pledged to do the right thing and agreed to fund work to fix life-critical, fire safety-related defects on buildings of 11 metres and above in which they had a role in developing or refurbishing over the last 30 years (and including those which have applied for or received Government funding).

Where a developer cannot be identified or has not yet agreed to pay for its own buildings, the £4.5 billion Building Safety Fund is available to pay for work to address life-critical fire safety issues for those buildings of 18 metres or taller in height with cladding.

For eligible buildings of 11-18 metres in height in this situation, a new scheme funded by developers through the Building Safety Levy will pay to address life safety/fire risk-related issues. This is to be rolled out next year following a pilot that was launched last month.