The ACT Government announced the Private Buildings Cladding Scheme (the Scheme) on 21 July 2021 to assist owners corporations of eligible Class 2 (residential apartment) or mixed use (residential apartment and other uses) buildings in the ACT to test whether their building has combustible cladding. The Scheme is part of the ACT Cladding Program (started in late 2020) and is administered by the Major Projects Canberra Directorate. It will provide financial support during phase one of testing and assessment and concessional loans for phase two of rectification.
This scheme offers owners corporations of eligible buildings a rebate of 50% (up to a maximum of $20,000 excluding GST) of the cost of testing and assessing the cladding on their buildings. The testing will determine the level of safety risk created by the cladding, the scope and cost of any remediation works required to reduce the risk and any interim fire safety measures that should be implemented in the building while remediation works are considered.
To be an eligible building under the Scheme, a building must be a multi-use or solely residential-use building of at least three storeys, be a class 2 apartment building or involve a cluster of buildings (defined as a tight grouping of residential dwellings with the potential for fire spread between buildings posing a high risk), and be reasonably judged by the owners corporation to have cladding. If a building does not meet the criteria, the owners corporation may consider applying for discretionary access if the cladding on the building poses a significant fire safety risk and the ownership structure of the building means that it is unlikely that the owners would be able to fund testing and assessment without access to the Scheme’s rebate.
It is important to note that the rebate under the Scheme can only be applied for by owners corporations. Individual unit owners are not eligible to apply. An authorized representative of an owners corporation, such as a strata manager, may submit the application on behalf of the owners corporation and undertake all administrative steps required under the Scheme.
In addition, retrospective access is allowed under the Scheme. That is, owners corporations may be considered for retrospective access to the Scheme if the testing and assessment services they have paid for has resulted in a written comprehensive testing and assessment report. However, testing and assessment that is being claimed retrospectively cannot have been undertaken prior to 27 August 2020.
Owners corporations have until 21 July 2022 to apply for the Scheme. Successful owners corporations have until 20 December 2022 to undertake the testing and assessment of the cladding on their building.
The Scheme is introduced by the ACT government to overcome challenges faced by private building owners in dealing with cladding issues without assistance. In other jurisdictions, similar actions were taken by state governments. In NSW, for example, the NSW Cladding Taskforce was established to identify buildings with potentially combustible cladding and support local councils to address the use of non-compliant cladding materials. The Taskforce audited 185,000 building records and to date 4127 buildings have been inspected. In Victoria, Cladding Safety Victoria (CSV) was established by the government to deliver a $600M investment to tackle the issue of combustible cladding on privately-owned residential apartment buildings across Victoria. To investigate and address the use of non-compliant building materials in Victoria, a state taskforce was established in 2017 and carried out a statewide cladding audit of over 2200 buildings.
For more information about the Scheme, please click here.