More building owners will be held to account for repairs of high-rise properties thanks to a multi-million-pound expansion in council enforcement teams.
Backed by more than £8 million in government funding, local enforcement units will benefit from greater resources to pursue freeholders who are dragging their heels and refusing to begin repairs.
Councils have already begun a crackdown through their own teams, but with extra support will now be able to provide more innocent leaseholders with a safe and secure home.
The funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will be split among 59 councils in England and prioritised for those with the highest number of unsafe buildings, particularly focused in London, Manchester and Birmingham.
Minister for Building Safety Lee Rowley said:
Building owners must get essential cladding repairs done as quickly as possible and we will be relentless in pursuing those who do not.
We are bolstering council enforcement operations, making them better equipped to make the most of the powers they have to hold freeholders to account and prevent them from dragging their heels.
I look forward to working with councils to ensure we keep up the pressure on freeholders so they step up to the plate.
Cllr Dora Dixon-Fyle, Cabinet Member for Community Safety at Southwark Council, said:
We’ve been taking enforcement action against private residential building owners who haven’t completed necessary cladding work for some years now. This is part of our thorough fire safety measures that look to keep people safe.
However, we have far more high-rise buildings than many other London boroughs, meaning that this funding will support a much needed expansion of our work.
The Building Safety Act makes clear building owners must fix their own buildings and that developers are the first in line to pay to protect leaseholders from repair bills. The additional funding will help ensure freeholders cannot escape their responsibilities.
More than 45 of the UK’s biggest house builders have pledged to do the right thing and agreed to fund work to fix life-critical, fire-safety defects on buildings 11 metres and over that they had a role in developing or refurbishing over the last 30 years – including those which have applied for or received government funding.
Where a developer cannot be identified or has not yet agreed to pay for its own buildings, the £4.5 billion Building Safety Fund is available to pay for work to address life-critical fire safety issues with buildings 18 metres plus in height with cladding.
For eligible buildings 11-18m in height in this situation, a new scheme funded by developers through the Building Safety Levy will pay to address life safety fire risk issues will be rolled out next year following a pilot launched last month.