Applicants wishing to claim grant funding from the £1bn Building Safety Fund (BSF) to replace unsafe cladding, need to act immediately to maximise their chance of success, warns property consultancy SAY Property Consulting LLP.
In a call to action Charles Seifert a partner at SAY said: “The Government have today (26th May 2020) launched the Building Safety Fund Registration Prospectus and it imposes strict time limits on making eligibility applications to the fund, the registration process will open in the first week of June and will only remain open until 31st of July.
Failure to submit an application may result in the landlord or tenants having to meet the costs. We believe that if the responsible party (normally the landlord) fails to make an application, tenants and leaseholders may look to recover any liabilities passed on to them through the courts. In addition, the new Fire Safety Bill requires landlords to mitigate the fire safety risks of any external wall systems. Consequently, we think it is essential that landlords make every effort to proactively start working on applications to the fund,” adds Seifert.
The Government had already made available £600m to ensure the remediation of the high-risk ACM cladding of the type that was in place on Grenfell Tower. And in March the Government announced in the budget a further £1bn in 2020/21 to fund the removal and replacement of a wider range of cladding systems on residential buildings over 18 metres in height, including high-pressure laminate (HPL), wood and other class C/D cladding.
Seifert says the good news is that grants have been awarded from the first phase £600m tranche, giving leaseholders and tenants the comfort that their homes are safe and will be saleable in the future.
SAY was successful in helping a Resident Management Company client gain approval for a multi-million pound grant from the initial fund, and his team have learned a great deal about navigating the application requirements in the process. Seifert says “this is a unique ‘win win’ situation, the Government want to assist the removal of unsafe cladding, and if applications are successful, landlords and tenants will not be required to meet the costs of cladding remediation.”
However, Seifert cannot emphasise enough the challenge of making a successful application. “Submitting an application is a highly complex and time-consuming process, requiring input and co-ordination with over a dozen parties as well as meeting the prescriptive requirements of the application itself.”
The key questions are:
Who is responsible for undertaking the work? Normally, it is the party named in the lease – normally the landlord but possibly a tenant management company.
Are all the works for which the application is being made eligible?
The checklist of actions includes:
- Identifying who is responsible for making the application
- Liaising with tenants and leaseholders, and possibly head-leaseholders and freeholders - and having in-depth knowledge of landlord & tenant law
- Identifying the type of cladding on the building
- Deciding on what works can be applied for
- Appointing an approved laboratory to test the cladding
- Appointing fire consultants
- Liaising with architects to obtain base-build information
- Liaising with local authority building control for works approval
- Appointing a building contractor
- Project managing the works