Fire safety in high rise residential apartment buildings: Aviva’s role and our customers

Aviva’s position on the important area of fire safety in residential apartment buildings and its approach to recent developments concerning remediation.

Page updated 3 April 2023  

Aviva’s asset management business, Aviva Investors, manages the Aviva Investors REaLM Ground Rent Fund (the Fund).

The Fund owns around 1,000 residential apartment buildings across England and Wales, some of which are affected by cladding and other fire safety issues.

Neither Aviva Plc nor Aviva Investors own the Fund or its buildings which are instead owned by UK company pension schemes for the ultimate benefit of some 350,000 individual retirees and pension savers.

Aviva Plc and Aviva Investors fully support the aims of the Building Safety Act 2022 (the Act) and the principle that developer led remediation is the fairest solution.

As a responsible building owner:

  • The Fund will have regard to the Act with its focus on managing building safety risks arising from fire spread or structural collapse in buildings of five or more storeys or 11m or higher and prescribing when leaseholders may be asked to contribute towards the cost of addressing such risks (known as the ‘leaseholder protections’). The Act came into force on 28 June 2022 and the Fund will take full account of the various provisions of the Act and all supporting secondary legislation as they are introduced and relate to its buildings.    
  • The Fund is monitoring progress as developers sign up to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ (DLUHC’s) Developer Remediation Contract (the Contract). A number of the Fund’s buildings were developed by one or another of the UK residential developers  that have over the last 12 months pledged to address all life-critical fire-safety defects in buildings 11m or above in England which they developed or refurbished over the past 30 years (the Pledge). The Contact which was published by DLUHC this January gives legal status to the voluntary Pledge and requires developers to take responsibility for all necessary work to address life-critical fire-safety defects in such buildings  as well as requiring them to keep residents informed of progress. As of 24 March, 44 developers have signed the Contract leaving a further six who have made the Pledge yet to sign (after the withdrawal of four further developers which on examination have no buildings that fall within the scope of the Contract). Those developers which have signed the Contact, and which are responsible for one or more of the Fund’s buildings, are required to get in contact with the Fund (or that building’s Residents’ Management Company (RMC) or Right to Manage Company (RTM) where there is one) to set out their proposals for addressing the life-critical fire-safety defects and to liaise with the building’s residents. Those developers who fail to do so in a timely manner will be reminded of their obligations and prompted to do so by the Fund.
  • For those developers which have not made the Pledge or having done so, do not go on to sign the Contract, the Fund will use the tools provided by the Act to seek the remediation of the fire safety risks in buildings to which the Act applies. 
  • The Fund will ensure that buildings under its direct control (being buildings without an RMC or RTM) and which meet the requirements for an applicable government funding scheme are registered with it. This may include the existing Building Safety Fund scheme for buildings 18m and above or the recently-announced Cladding Safety Scheme (initially called the medium-rise scheme) for buildings between 11m and 18m. The Cladding Safety Scheme is currently undergoing a pilot phase before its wider launch and government has said further details on eligibility and the application process will be announced as soon as possible. 
  • The Fund will support RMCs and RTMs whose buildings have fire safety issues but whose developer has chosen not to make the Pledge or sign the Contact to date, or which no longer exists. Depending on the particular circumstances, that may be supporting the RMC or RTM in obtaining an up-to-date assessment of the fire safety risks, in applying for any applicable government funding or in seeking recovery from the developer or other third parties and ultimately in supporting the remediation and/or mitigation of the assessed fire risks.
  • The Fund will continue to arrange fire risk assessments for the Fund’s directly controlled buildings of all heights (being buildings without an RMC or RTM) as and when required under applicable fire safety legislation.

This web page is updated periodically to reflect current developments.