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Owners, landlords and managers of private tower blocks in England asked to check cladding

The owners, landlords and managers of private residential blocks in England have been told by the British Government that help is available for them to check their buildings in light of concerns following the fire in London.

Melanie Dawes, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), has written to them after being asked to make more information available by representative bodies in the private rental sector.

She had previously written to councils and housing associations to make them aware of what help is available in terms of checking cladding on buildings of multiple occupancy following the deadly fire at Grenfell Tower.

Free testing is being offered on cladding that may be the same as that used in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower with priority given to blocks over six storeys or 18 meters high. But the cost of any remedial work will have to be met by owners.

‘There has been much public concern and comment about potential flaws in the cladding that was on Grenfell Tower. While the exact reasons for the speed of the spread of fire have yet to be determined, we have concluded that there are additional tests that can be undertaken with regard to the cladding,’ Dawes says in the letter.

‘We have asked local authorities and social housing providers to identify whether any panels used in new build or refurbishment of their own housing stock are a particular type of cladding made of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM). These checks will be relevant to privately owned and managed residential buildings too, so please can you consider carrying out these checks on your buildings,’ she explains.

Details on how to identify the cladding are and Dawes points out that it is important to stress that ACM cladding is not of itself dangerous, but it is important that the right type is used.

‘If you identify that cladding on any of your buildings is made of ACM, then a sample can be tested. This testing facility is also being made available to blocks that are privately owned, and your local authority may already have been in touch to make you aware of this,’ she added.

She also explains that the testing will be paid for by the DCLG and the cost of any remedial action will be the responsibility of the owner of the building. Any questions should be sent to

‘Where the entire block is not owned and managed by the same party, please ensure that only one sample is provided and that any necessary permissions are obtained for taking and sending off the sample,’ the letter continues.

‘We would not expect individual leaseholders within a building to send off samples for testing. As well as this work it is of course important that owners/landlords have robust fire assessments for their properties,’ it concludes.