More leaseholders in high-rise homes will be “spared unfair bills for building safety costs” as the government’s £4.5bn Building Safety Fund reopens for new applications.

Buildings over 18 metres with cladding issues are eligible to apply for the fund, which has allocated over £1.3bn towards making homes safe since its launch in 2020.

A new online Leaseholder Protections Checker will help leaseholders understand if they qualify for financial protections under the Building Safety Act, whilst legislation that is now fully operational means leaseholders can prove legally for the first time that they are protected from historical building safety costs.

The protections prevent qualifying leaseholders from paying the majority of costs to fix fire safety defects in their homes, and make those responsible, and those who own the buildings, pay instead.

Any building owner that invoices qualifying leaseholders or continues to seek payment of outstanding bills for work to fix historical building safety defects that are needed could now face criminal action, unless they can prove they are legally entitled to recover these costs.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up Greg Clark said: “We must make homes safe. The relaunch of the Building Safety Fund today will help achieve this, but we must also ensure those in industry who acted irresponsibly pay their fair share to put things right.

“The Building Safety Act makes clear building owners’ liabilities and gives us powers to pursue those that continue to flout the rules.

“It has also introduced far-reaching legal protections to relieve many leaseholders from the financial burden of fixing their homes. With these now fully up and running, I urge any homeowners who may qualify to see if they are eligible using our online Leaseholder Protections Checker as soon as possible.”

Where there are no clear plans in place to fix buildings over 18 metres with cladding related issues, building owners and landlords can check their eligibility for the Building Safety Fund, which is taking new applications from today.

For buildings 11-18 metres in height where the original developer or building owner cannot be identified or held responsible, the government is also launching a new scheme to cover the costs of remediating unsafe cladding. Further details of this scheme will be announced in due course.

Leaseholders with concerns about how repairs to their home will be made and funded are advised to speak to their building owner, who is legally required to provide regular updates on the progress of fire safety works.