Important building advice

Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, the Government changed its building safety guidelines by issuing a series of advice notes. These advice notes are intended to give building owners clear guidance about how to make sure their properties are constructed and maintained safely. In January 2020 they were consolidated and updated into one single advice note which has much wider implications.

Since the summer, mortgage lenders have begun making extra requests of people who apply for mortgages on properties in purpose-built blocks. They want applicants to provide independent certification that the property meets the requirements of the government’s advice notes.

Unfortunately, building owners, including Peabody, can’t readily provide this in the majority of cases as each one requires a detailed survey and sign off by a chartered engineer. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of homeowners across the country will be affected by this issue.

How does a building get certification?

To get the certification, under the new process agreed by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, UK Finance and the Building Societies Association, building owners must employ a specialist fire engineer to carry out intrusive tests of the building structure. Doing this involves 'opening up' the building and testing all the materials used in its construction to make sure they meet the new guidance.

If this process can be completed conclusively, the results then need to be analysed. Then the building owners need to plan, procure, cost and carry out any work that is needed before the certification requested can be provided. This is a complex and lengthy process. This is also complicated by the limited number of qualified fire experts who are needed to assess buildings, carry out inspections and confirm whether remediation work is required.

Given the extent of the new guidance issued in January 2020 most housing associations predict that some buildings will need remedial work. With this in mind, we must prioritise which buildings to review first. Our programme may take many years to deliver. We need to prioritise over 1,000 blocks of flats, and it is only after investigation that we will fully understand the scale of works required and be able to put timings to the programme.

As our programme of work develops we will publish progress updates, with indicative timescales, as far as we are able to. We’ll also be updating all residents when we start the review in each building

What does this mean?

Some lenders have taken the view that if independent certification cannot be provided to demonstrate compliance, they won’t offer a mortgage. This may mean that the leaseholder, or a prospective purchaser of their home, will not currently be able to secure a mortgage against the property.

If you decide to proceed with your mortgage/sale please be aware that we’re unable to refund any application or admin fees in the event that you can’t complete the transaction.

If you are concerned that your ability to staircase or sell your home might be affected by these changes, please seek advice directly from your lender or mortgage broker.

What is Peabody doing to address this issue?

Peabody is an early adopter of the Government’s building safety proposals and we are committed to implementing the recommendations from Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of building safety. The safety of our residents is our utmost priority.

As part of the G15 group of London housing associations, we are calling on the government to help rectify this situation. We’re asking for government to:

  • provide clear guidance to ensure we can prioritise which buildings to review first
  • step up their support to enable stuck leaseholders to sell and
  • make funding available to protect leaseholders from high bills.

Potentially hundreds of thousands of people will find themselves in a similar situation to yours and we need the government to act now.

We know this is extremely disappointing for leaseholders, many of who find themselves in really difficult situations, especially when all properties were approved by Building Control and have fire risk assessments in place. We’re really sorry for any stress this situation is causing.

Once again we would like to reassure all leaseholders that building safety is our absolute priority, and we are working closely with our partners in the sector and government to find a way forward.

If you would like to get in touch with a member of the Peabody sales team, please use one of the contact methods provided below.

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