Born out of the Grenfell Fire Review, there are concerns that the government’s Draft Building Safety Bill could lead to increased bills for leaseholders. The draft bill is intended to make those responsible for the safety of residents within a building accountable for mistakes at any stage, from development through to management. But what implications does it have for leaseholders?
The bill proposes to keep all residents safer with the appointment of an ‘Accountable Person’ for every block of over 18 metres. This Accountable Person will be tasked with ensuring the safety of all residents by listening and responding to their individual concerns.
A New National Regulator
A new national regulator will be set up to oversee the work of the Accountable Persons. The new regulator will also create a panel of residents who will have a voice in the development of its work.
A New Homes Ombudsman
A New Homes Ombudsman will be set up, allowing new build homeowners a right to recourse. All developers will be required to join to increase greater accountability at every stage of the process.
New Building Safety Charge
The Draft Building Safety Bill also intends to levy a New Building Safety Charge to keep buildings safe. This is where leaseholder concerns stem from. Although the charge is intended to be transparent and to avoid passing high costs onto leaseholders, ARMA estimates it could cost between £6,000 and £10,000 to appoint a Building Safety Manager – a not insubstantial amount.
Part of this safety review will also require the remediation of unsafe cladding. Again, the issue is who’s liable to pay for it. While the government has earmarked £1.6 billion in grants to cover it, they’ve admitted the costs are likely to be nearer to £3.5 billion, leaving thousands of the 113,000 flats currently affected footing the bill.
The looming costs expected as a result of the draft Building Safety Bill have been foreshadowed by the issues around External Wall Fire Review (EWS1) forms.
The EWS1 form was introduced at the end of 2019 to give mortgage lenders confidence that high-rise buildings over 18 metres were safe. In January the government suddenly changed its fire safety guidance to include buildings of any height, even including buildings that don’t have cladding. Without an EWS1 form, owners of these homes can’t sell or remortgage. With only 300 inspectors currently qualified to complete the form, waiting lists are ballooning and it’s estimated that three million people in private flats are effectively trapped without being to sell.
For more information on the EWS1 form and where we go forward from here, please watch our FREE What Should Block Managers Do in Respect of EWS1 Forms webinar.