Making sure our buildings are safe
We take the safety of our residents seriously and are doing our best to ensure our buildings comply with all relevant regulations.
Since the Grenfell Tower tragedy there’s been much debate about the cladding on residential buildings, including questions about its safety and who pays to have unsafe cladding removed.
In June 2022, protections within the Building Safety Act 2022 came into force. This ruled that qualifying leaseholders in buildings over 11m (five storeys) don’t have to pay for cladding to be removed or replaced.
Along with the rest of the housing industry, we welcomed this ruling. We also decided we’ll continue to cover the costs of interim safety measures. This includes things like installing temporary alarms and waking watch services.
So what does this mean for our residents? Here are some of the most common questions we’re asked:
Building Safety Act protections for qualifying leaseholders
1) What do you mean by a ‘qualifying leaseholder’?
You’re a qualifying leaseholder if your property is in a building above 11m (or five storeys), and on 14 February 2022:
- The property was your main home, OR
- You owned no more than three UK residential properties in total.
Please note that if you had to move out and sub-let your property at that time, you’re still covered as a qualifying leaseholder if the other criteria above are met.
2) What protection does the act offer to qualifying leaseholders?
It means that in England qualifying leaseholders can’t be charged to remove or replace historical cladding issues. Non-cladding-related costs are also now legally protected.
In other words, any unlimited liability that qualifying leaseholders might have had in the past to fix historical building safety costs no longer applies.
3) What work and costs does the protection cover?
It covers work to fix a building safety risk as defined in the Building Safety Act. That is any defect caused during the construction or refurbishment of a building in the past 30 years that causes a risk to people’s safety from the spread of fire or the collapse of some or all of the building.
Your service charge will continue to cover day-to-day services and repairs not relating to construction.
4) If I meet the criteria as a qualifying leaseholder, who is liable to pay for building safety repairs on my building?
Owners and landlords are liable to pay to fix historical fire safety defects if:
- They’re the developer.
- They’re linked to the development of a building with fire safety defects.
- They have net worth of over £2m per affected building.
5) Which developers have signed the contract to remediate unsafe buildings that they developed?
The full list of developers that have signed the contract is available here.
The contract is legally binding and requires developers to:
- Take responsibility for all necessary work to address life-critical fire-safety defects arising from the design and construction of buildings 11m and over in height that they developed or refurbished over the last 30 years in England.
- Keep residents in those buildings informed on progress towards meeting this commitment.
- Reimburse taxpayers for funding spent on remediating their buildings.
6) Will you continue to negotiate with the companies that built our homes?
Many of the companies that built your homes have signed the legally-binding government contract referred to in Q5. This means they've committed to carrying out life-critical fire-safety works in buildings over 11m that they played a role in developing or refurbishing over the last 30 years in England. Where companies haven’t signed up, we’ll continue to rigorously pursue them wherever possible and explore all other funding options. For buildings below 11m, please see Q9 for more information.
7) What happens to any future leaseholders if I sell my property?
The protections provided by the legislation will automatically transfer to any future buyers of the property. This means that all new owners of a property that was eligible for the protections on 14 February 2022 will be covered, even if they bought it after that date.
8) Does this mean I no longer have to contribute towards any fire safety-related work at my building?
You’ll still have to pay your service charge, which includes costs for day-to-day repairs. As per the legislation there’s a distinction between putting right defects that are related to the construction or refurbishment of a building and more day-to-day services to keep your building safe. (See Q3 for more information.)
9) Does this change the requirement for EWS1 forms?
See the EWS1 forms – valuing high-rise residential properties page for more information.
10) My block is below 11m – what does this mean for me?
Under the new building safety regime, checks of external walls on all buildings, irrespective of height, are included as part of the regular fire risk assessment. If there are any potential cladding issues, these will be identified as part of that process and managed on an individual basis.
However, buildings under 11m present a significantly lower risk. This means it’s likely that adding fire alarms and sprinklers will be more appropriate than replacing the cladding.
If remediation is needed, we’ll do everything we can to protect leaseholders from potential costs. And we'll continue to explore all funding options. This may include negotiating with the original builder when work’s required because of a build or design defect. The implementation of the Building Safety Act has extended the length of time we have to take action from six years to 30 years for homes completed before 28 June 2022, or 15 years for homes completed after 28 June 2022.
If you need more information, check out the building safety cost section on the government website.
We’ll update this page and communicate information as soon as we have more clarity on any aspects of the general legislation or specific investigations or buildings.
Our building safety investigation programme
1) What is the government’s advice on the measures building owners should take to ensure their buildings are safe?
An external wall system is the outside wall of a residential building. As well as any cladding, which you’ll have heard a lot about in the media, it also includes the insulation between any cladding panels and the walls and other fire-stopping measures. Each of these elements, and how they perform together, is reviewed as part of our investigation programme.
2) What is Peabody doing to investigate its buildings and protect residents?
Since starting our investigation programme, we’ve completed assessments on almost 1,100 buildings (as at June 2023). Our programme follows the latest government guidance in terms of investigation criteria and, following the introduction of a new prioritisation tool in 2022 (the Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool – or FRAPT), we’re on track to have investigated the remaining 460 blocks by the end of 2025. All of the residential blocks we own or manage were signed off by building control at the time they were constructed.
3) What does the investigation involve?
Our cladding investigations have three stages:
- An initial desktop investigation where our building safety team look at all the details we have on file, e.g. architects’ drawings, plans, details of materials used, etc. See below for details of what the desktop investigation involves.
- A further intrusive survey with a report on the findings if needed.
- A final review by a fire engineer (who may need to do their own intrusive survey) who provides an external wall system (EWS1) rating. This will either be compliant or state that we need to do remedial works.
4) How long does the investigation take?
Our programme is based on the government’s existing investigation criteria and is dependent on the availability of qualified fire engineers. On average, the whole investigation process takes around six-nine months. The main reason for the lengthy turnaround time is that there’s an acute shortage of engineers qualified to carry out the assessments.
The process itself is also very time consuming as every detail of the external wall needs to be identified and recorded so that the fire engineer can make an assessment based on complete information.
5) What information is gathered as part of the initial desktop study?
This comprehensive study involves in-depth research of all the files, data and records we hold on a particular building. The range of information gathered as part of the study includes:
- A summary of the height, occupancy, layout, materials, construction date, developer and architect.
- Architects’ drawings and site location plan.
- Construction drawings and materials used.
- Documentary evidence of local authority Planning and Building Control approval.
- Fire Risk Assessment.
- Fire strategy for the building, including details of fire hazards, compartmentation, active and passive systems, firefighting lifts, smoke modelling, fire stopping and cavity barriers
- Documentary evidence that the design and materials were approved by building control before construction began and once the building was completed.
- Relevant certification and details of tests carried out on all products and materials used in the construction of the building to confirm whether they comply with current residential safety standards.
It can take several weeks and sometimes months, to gather the information, ensure it’s correct, review the findings and compile the report. This is because there can be hundreds of drawings and documents that need to be thoroughly inspected to check that the building complied with all building regulations at the time of construction.
6) What happens if Peabody doesn’t own or manage the building I live in – can you still help?
If we don’t own or manage your building, we can’t carry out our own investigations into the external wall system. However, we do liaise closely with freeholders and managing agents on your behalf. We then work with them to ensure residents receive timely updates on what’s happening with investigations and any remedial work that might be required.
7) Are these the same checks that are carried out as part of an EWS1 survey?
No, the EWS1 survey is carried out for valuation purposes only to determine whether or not remedial work is required, thereby affecting the value. It’s not designed to assess fire safety features or risks and isn’t used to determine the overall risk of fire to a building. See our EWS1 forms – valuing high-rise properties page for more information.
8) What is the Building Safety Fund and have you applied?
The Building Safety Fund (BSF) was introduced by the government in 2020 to cover the cost of removing or replacing unsafe non-ACM cladding on high rise buildings over 18m in England. The total amount available through the fund is £5.1bn. The fund is overseen by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).
9) What does it mean if my building isn’t part of the investigation programme?
Our investigation programme is prioritised based on criteria set by the government (i.e. the FRAPT, mentioned above). If your building hasn’t been included in our programme, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t, or won’t be, assessed regularly: we must carry out assessments on all our residential blocks with two or more individual units. We deliver and manage this as part of our rolling programme of fire risk assessments (FRAs) which, under the revised Fire Safety Act, take account of the structure, external walls and flat entrance doors.