A new government funding scheme for cladding remediation for medium-rise buildings (i.e. those between 11m and 18m tall) is set to open in the near future.

This follows the launch late last November of a pilot Medium-Rise Scheme (MRS) by Homes England, the non-departmental public body funding new affordable housing in England. It applies where it has not been possible to trace or identify a building’s developer, leaving what are known as ‘orphan’ buildings. The scheme will fund the remediation or mitigation of risks of unsafe external wall systems on buildings between 11m and 18m high.

The money will come from the Building Safety Levy, first announced in 2021 and which stops the public and leaseholders from having to pay to fix safety issues like unsafe cladding.

The new scheme covers residential or mixed-use structures where there is at least one flat with a long lease.

As the pilot scheme continues, Homes England says it wants to hear about any buildings potentially eligible for the fund, to help anticipate demand. It’s currently believed that some 5,000 structures could be in line for a claim under this programme.

You can already supply details of your building online if you’re responsible for a place’s external upkeep. That way, you’ll also receive regular updates on when the fund will open. However, you won’t be told whether or not you’re eligible at this stage.

Homes England will manage the whole process from application through to funding award.

The Property Institute (TPI), the professional body for the sector, says: “From our discussions with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUCH), we understand that the full scheme is expected to launch during the second quarter of this year, as the Cladding Safety Scheme.

“We have assurance that the digital process will be able to handle the expected very high volume of applicants.”

Equally, the TPI says it believes that Homes England has established an accredited panel of approved fire risk assessors who will carry out the Fire Risk Appraisal External Wall (FRAEW) to demonstrate eligibility for funding. Homes England won’t accept assessments from firms which aren’t on this list.

(Equally, you shouldn’t get an FRAEW done before applying. But if you’ve already had an appraisal, check whether the assessor is on the list or ask them to apply to join it.)

Successful applicants will receive funding via monthly payments in arrears. However, Homes England will issue around 15% of the total award upfront at the pre-tender stage. This is intended to pay for design and tendering expenses.

As a reminder, if your building is above 18m in height, you need to apply to the Building Safety Fund instead.

You can only fill in the initial form if you’re an owner or in charge of the building’s external maintenance and repairs (i.e. the Responsible Entity). That can be a freeholder, the head of a resident-led group or Right to Manage company. Leaseholders or tenants shouldn’t complete the registration.

Before you complete the form, it’s worth checking whether you can make a warranty or insurance claim or whether the developer is on the list of those who have signed the building safety repairs pledge.

The government says it is committed to ensuring people are safe at home, and to protecting leaseholders. It says it also wants to ensure that “relevant industries fix the problems for which they are responsible”.

The DLUHC reckons that some 60 structures across England could be able to apply immediately. These already “have interim measures in place, such as waking watches”.

Minister for Local Government and Building Safety Lee Rowley said: “We’re taking action to protect innocent leaseholders and so this is an important step forward for them”.

Oakfield says

At Oakfield Estate Agents, we believe that this will be very welcome news for leaseholders in buildings with unsafe external wall systems and who live in structures which are below 18m tall, since the Building Safety Fund does not cover these.

The government has already urged building owners to register their interest in the scheme and check their potential eligibility. So it’s well worth talking to your managing agent, and ensuring they’re aware of this and will register your interest.

We have extensive experience of block management across East Sussex and so are ideally placed to offer advice – get in touch today if you have any queries about the proposed Cladding Safety Scheme.

If you need any further advice please do not hesitate to get in touch https://www.oakfield-property.co.uk/estate-agents/block-management/