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Expansion of Eligibility Criteria announced for the Leaseholder Support Scheme Wales

7th February 2023

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Since June 2022, the launch of the Leaseholder Support Scheme has supported a large number of leaseholders in Wales that had to deal with rising costs in high-rise apartments due to cladding.  The qualifying requirements for the Scheme are being expanded, ensuring that individuals who are most in need can get support, according to the written statement from the Minister for Climate Change announced on 23rd January, 2023.

Many people now find themselves in an untenable situation as a result of the current cost of living crisis, and moving ahead, the support provided by the Leaseholder Support Scheme will now take this into consideration. The programme continues to give eligible leaseholders access to free independent financial advice and, if it’s the appropriate decision for the owner and the eligibility requirements are met,  the scheme gives them the choice to sell their property, with the potential to rent it back from the government or move on.

The scheme’s eligibility requirements have changed in two key ways:

  1. The evaluation of financial hardship now takes into consideration the increasing energy costs. This will help more people access the scheme and boost awareness of those who are experiencing severe financial difficulty as a consequence of recent rises to the energy price cap.
  2. The Displaced Residents clause has been eliminated. Before, leaseholders had to be either residents or residents evicted from their homes because of a change in circumstances in order to qualify for the programme. 

The changes will help more leaseholders in financial hardship receive the support they need.

Our Managing Director Douglas Haig had this to say about the scheme:

“It is positive to see that Welsh Government recognise that their pathway to full building remediation is going to take some time, and that they need to allow a wider catchment of individuals a way out of being trapped into not being able to sell their property.  Whilst the scheme is still restricted, it is very positive to see the removal of the Displaced Residents Clause and it will be interesting to see the figures on how many leaseholders are using this scheme.  Ultimately though we need to be pushing forwards on the resolution to this crisis so that people don’t have to use this scheme.”

How you access the support scheme will still be via the Welsh Building Safety Fund. To start this process, a responsible person must complete an ‘Expression of Interest’ which is how you access the fund. This fund then allows for surveys to take place at no cost to leaseholders and offers information regarding any fire safety issues and there risks. Where applicable the fund will also provide a valid EWS1 form

Welsh Climate Change minister Julie James speaks of the scheme;

The survey work provides essential information and signposts where additional work is needed to address fire risk.  It is therefore essential that Managing Agents and Responsible Persons ensure our consultants are able to access buildings as quickly as possible to undertake these works, rather than have access delayed by those who should be acting in the best interest of their leaseholders, residents and tenants.”

The Welsh Government are also working on changing existing building control regimes to ensure these are fit for purpose. There is a transition plan to bring in legislative changes to construction and design of buildings in progress.

The key changes are:

  • A register for Building Control Inspectors and Building Control Approvers
  • Meeting competence criteria to be able to provide advice to Local Authorities or private building control bodies
  • Private building control bodies, currently known as Approved inspectors must register, as building control approvers, to continue to undertake building control work on non-Higher risk Buildings.
  • Only Local Authority Building Control will be able to be the building control authority for buildings meeting the criteria for Higher-risk Buildings.

To conclude, the Welsh Government is committed to help leaseholders and residents in buildings with fire safety defects and changes have been made to expand the eligibility based on the current cost of living crisis. These changes along with updating the existing building control regime, should help address the issues that insurers and lenders have and work towards a future where leaseholders can sell in these developments.

More information you might find useful:

If you are a leaseholder looking to benefit from the Leasehold Support Scheme, please contact our blocks team here or visit the government website for further information.