More leaseholders protected but loopholes must be closed

The Cladding Safety Scheme (CSS) has opened for all buildings in England over 11 meters and 11-18m in the Greater London authority area. However, Propertymark remains concerned there are still too many ways leaseholders can end up bearing the cost of work they should not be responsible for.

Low rise apartment block by canal

The CSS, previously announced as a pilot called the Medium Rise Scheme, is for new funding applications for the remediation of unsafe cladding in cases where a responsible developer cannot be identified, traced, or held responsible.

Property agents to signpost clients

Leaseholders or residents in a property that they think could be eligible should be encouraged to contact their Responsible Entity and ask them to make an application through the Homes England Cladding Safety Scheme application portal.

We encourage agents managing leasehold properties to make sure their clients understand how to apply for the required documents to show they are eligible for protection.

Guidance is also available to support leaseholders with an explanation of the leaseholder protections in the Building Safety Act 2022. The online Leaseholder Protections Checker will show them what financial protections are in place.

A Responsible Entity is the person or organisation legally responsible for a building’s external repair and maintenance, and may be:

  • the freeholder
  • the head leaseholder
  • a right-to-manage company (RTM)
  • a resident management company (RMC) or
  • a registered provider of social housing such as a local authority or housing association

Propertymark supports independent remediation scheme amendment

Despite some progress being made, Propertymark continues to highlight shortfalls in the current protection for leaseholders. We have engaged with crossbench peer the Earl of Lytton who is a chartered surveyor and critical political voice campaigning on this issue.

As the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill moves through the report stage in the House of Lords, Lord Lytton has tabled an amendment to introduce an independent Building Safety Remediation Scheme, which Propertymark is strongly supporting.

Speaking in the House of Lords on 20 July 2023, Lytton emphasised many instances where the current system allows developers to continue to pass on remediation costs. This includes extending leases after 14 February 2022, which causes leaseholders to lose their protections.

An independent body with the authority to issue liability without what Lord Lytton called the “hideous level of complexity” of the current proposals would go much further towards guaranteeing protections for leaseholders.

Propertymark has long stated that remediation costs should be covered by those who are responsible for historic defects. It makes little sense that leaseholders who had little or no control over the rest of the building should be made to cover the costs of ensuring the safety of themselves or their tenants.

We believe that the amendments proposed by the Earl of Lytton provide greater protections for leaseholders, removing loopholes and establishing an independent body that would enforce liability, while also expanding the types of buildings where leaseholders would qualify for protections. We, therefore, support this amendment’s inclusion within the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. 

Henry Griffith
Henry Griffith Policy and Campaigns Officer