Housing associations are working with leaseholder groups, the government, the building industry, mortgage lenders and surveyors to support leaseholders who can’t currently sell their homes. They are also doing everything they can to recover the costs of remedial works from those responsible, rather than charging leaseholders. The issue of leaseholders facing huge remediation bills is at the centre of the Building Safety Bill debates and we are working with Parliamentarians to support our call for more government funding for remedial works.
Where they are eligible to do so, housing associations have applied to the government’s Building Safety Fund for the remediation of unsafe non-ACM cladding on buildings of 18m and higher.
However, 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 and many are awaiting the outcomes of their applications.
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 works costs themselves for any of their buildings that house social housing residents. They could also have no choice but to charge leaseholders for a share of the costs.
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, housing associations should also not have to pay for remedial works, as this affects our ability to provide much-needed affordable homes to people on the lowest incomes.
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, and then recoup the costs from the organisations ultimately responsible at a later date. We are also calling for limited resources to be prioritised for buildings that need them most.
However, in recognition of the length of time remedial works could take to complete, we are sharing our members’ and residents’ experiences with the government and mortgage lenders and valuers, to help find a solution that will 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.
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.