FAQs about cladding and fire safety remediation costs

This page includes a list of FAQs for residents affected by the government's updated advice notes on building safety.

We’re continuing to vigorously explore all options to recover fire safety remediation costs from third parties involved with the development and construction of external wall systems, along with warranty providers.

We’ve always been clear Optivo will only pass on costs to leaseholders as a last resort, if all other options have been exhausted.

Will you be charging leaseholders for fire safety remedial works?

We’ve always been clear that recharging leaseholders is a last resort. We want to reassure you we’re continuing to vigorously explore all options to recover fire safety remediation costs from others.

This includes the Developer/Construction Team, the Warranty Provider and Building Safety Fund.
 

Why can’t Optivo just pay for the works?

As a not-for-profit organisation, we’re under an obligation to protect our charitable aims. We have to carefully consider any money we’re spending and the impact it has on all our residents. Our main priority will always be keeping our residents safe.

Do you not understand how upsetting this is?

We completely understand this is causing concern for affected leaseholders and we’re sorry for any distress caused. But we’re doing all we can to avoid costs being passed to leaseholders.

We want to reassure affected leaseholders we’re continuing to explore all options to recover these costs from others. We will only charge leaseholders as a last resort.
 

Why are you doing this now?

The Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017 uncovered a huge amount of uncertainty around what buildings are safe.
Since the Grenfell tragedy, the Government has set up investigations into materials and practices used in buildings.

It has issued advice notes which sets out the immediate actions that building owners should take to address the risk of fire spread. This includes things like external wall systems, such as cladding, and fire doors.

We have to assess and manage the risk of external fire spread in all our buildings and bring buildings into line with new regulations. The investigations and temporary measures to keep residents safe and remedial works come at a huge cost.

How long will works take on my building?

We’re keen to complete the fire safety works as quickly as possible. We ask you to be alert to potential fire risks around your home .

We know this is a difficult situation and we’re doing all we can to find a solution. We will continue to keep you regularly updated.

What is the Building Safety Fund?

The Government has set aside £1bn to meet the costs of removing and replacing unsafe non-ACM cladding systems on high-residential buildings (over 18 metres).

Registration opened on 1 June 2020 to apply for this money and it will be given out on a first come, first served basis. However, social housing providers (like Optivo) were unable to bid until August 2020.

There is no guarantee we will receive this funding.

We are actively lobbying the Government and are working with your local MPs to make more funding available and ensure leaseholders and housing associations do not have to bear these costs.
 

Can you not lobby the government for support?

We’re working hard to push for more government support for leaseholders and housing associations to get through this funding crisis.

We’re dedicating large amounts of senior staff time to raising this issue at the highest levels.

We’ll continue to push for the financial support that leaseholders and housing associations need.

To have the biggest influence, we’ve joined with other housing associations to lobby government.

We’re an active member of the G15 Building Safety Group, which is engaging with government on funding and proposed legislation. The G15, of which we’re a member, is the group of London’s largest housing associations.

We’re also working with housing associations from across the country in the National Housing Federation (NHF) Building Safety National Group. This group is also pro-actively lobbying government, including meeting officials earlier this month to discuss the need for more funding.

What are you saying to government?

Through the G15 and the NHF we’ve been asking government to:
  • Provide funding for fire safety remediation, so neither leaseholders nor charitable housing associations have to bear the cost
  • Ensure existing funding pots cover as many buildings as possible, by reducing restrictions on the Safer Buildings Fund
  • Provide greater clarity on fire safety regulations
  • Help tackle the skills shortage in fire safety engineers and other professions which is causing major issues, for example in issuing EWS1 certificates.

Are you engaging with the national leaseholder campaigns?

We’re an active member of the National Housing Federation, which is meeting regularly with UK Cladding Action and other leaseholder groups on behalf of all housing associations.
 

What is an EWS1 form?

Mortgage lenders are increasingly querying the make-up of external walls on buildings. These queries cover all building types and not just those with cladded materials on the exterior.

Many lenders now require an EWS1 Form, which is the industry template for recording details of the fire safety of a building’s external wall system for buildings over 18 metres.

These changes follow the Grenfell Tower fire and the Government releasing a number of building safety advice notes.

This issue is affecting leaseholders and building owners across the country. We're calling for government action to ensure EWS1 forms are only required by lenders on the correct buildings.

You'll find more information here about the EWS1 form and what we're doing to help.

We’d encourage any homeowner who’s looking to staircase, remortgage, or sell their property to contact us first before incurring any fees for legal or financial advice.

If you're unable to sell then please talk to us about what options may be available.

Do you support the Liberal Democrat amendment to the Fire Safety Bill in the House of Lords to ban leaseholders being charged for fire safety works?

We’re really grateful to all parliamentarians who are supporting the housing sector’s campaign on this issue.

While the amendment is a welcome attempt to protect leaseholders, it doesn’t solve the main problem we all face, which is who should pay for remediation work.

We’ve been clear through the G15 and NHF that what’s needed to solve the funding crisis once and for all is proper government funding.

If housing associations had to bear the full cost, we’d have to make cuts to vital services elsewhere. This would have a big impact on the tens of thousands of low-income tenants we support.
 


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