Housing associations are working urgently can to find solutions to the problems leaseholders are facing, working with leaseholder groups, the government, the building industry, mortgage lenders and surveyors.
Where they are eligible to do so, housing associations are applying to the government’s Building Safety Fund for the remediation of unsafe non-ACM cladding on buildings of 18m and higher.
However, not all landlords or buildings are eligible for government support, and the government expects that this funding will only cover the costs of remedial works for around a third of the eligible buildings that need them. Lower-rise buildings that need remedial works do not qualify for government funding and, even in higher-rise buildings that do qualify, only remedial works directly related to cladding are eligible.
Unlike private building owners, not-for-profit housing associations cannot apply for government funding to cover the total cost of remedial works for an eligible building. They can only claim for a portion of the costs so that, where their claim is accepted, costs will not be passed onto leaseholders in that building. Wherever they can, they are applying for this funding.
For buildings that do not receive government funding, housing associations do not want to pass the costs of remedial works on to leaseholders. They are pursuing all other routes to secure funding, including through building warranties, insurance, or through the original developers.
If they cannot secure funding in another way, housing associations could have to pay for remedial costs themselves for any of their buildings that house tenants. They could also have no choice but to charge leaseholders for a share of the costs, as there are laws governing how charitable funds can be used. As not for profit and charity organisations, housing associations are bound by these rules.
We want to avoid this outcome at all costs. We do not believe leaseholders should have to pay for systemic failure in the building safety system. And as charities providing homes for people on the lowest incomes, paying for works ourselves would also be extremely challenging – affecting our ability to build much-needed affordable homes in future.
As the trade body for housing associations, the NHF is working on behalf of our members to highlight what housing associations need to conduct EWS1 inspections and remedial works more quickly.
Ultimately, we believe that the systemic and widespread nature of this issue means that only government action can resolve the problem. We have been calling for the government to speed up remedial works by providing upfront funding for works on all buildings that need them. We are also calling for limited resources to be directed first at buildings that need them most.
However, in recognition of the length of time remedial works could take to complete, we want the government to work with mortgage lenders and valuers to find a solution to enable people to access mortgage finance in the meantime.
We have done this through our work with the media, with MPs, with members of the House of Lords, and with the government directly.
In the last few months, we have:
We are planning more activity to help us make our arguments to the government. You can help us by adding your voice to the many organisations and individuals calling for additional government support for remedial works.