21 Dec 2020

The unknown number of landlords with properties in blocks caught in the cladding crisis may be able to benefit from a new £30m fund set up by the government.

It is thought there may be many thousands of landlords whose flatted units are in blocks with ACM cladding and who have been paying for ‘waking watches’ along with other leaseholders.

Now the government’s new £30m Waking Watch Relief Fund will pay for the installation of fire alarm systems in high-rise buildings with cladding, removing or reducing the need for costly interim safety measures.

The fund will open in January, but will also provide immediate, emergency support to Wicker Riverside Apartments in Sheffield to ensure that the 35 recently evacuated families should be able to return to their homes before Christmas.

A six-month extension to the deadline for building owners to complete their applications to the £1 billion Building Safety Fund has also been announced with a new deadline for submissions of June 30 2021.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick says: “I’ve heard first-hand from leaseholders the misery that rip-off waking watch costs have been bringing to residents of high-rise buildings with cladding.

“I’m announcing a £30m Waking Watch Relief Fund to help relieve the financial pressure on those residents and to ensure they are safe. I’m confident that this will make a real difference to worried leaseholders up and down the country this Christmas.

“We have continued to prioritise the removal of unsafe ACM cladding throughout the pandemic and expect around 95 per cent of remediation work will have been completed or be underway by the end of this year.”

The government claims this fund builds on steps to alleviate the scandal, including securing an agreement that owners of flats in buildings without cladding do not need an EWS1 form to sell or re-mortgage their property – benefitting nearly 450,000 owners.

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