Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) was often used as a cladding material for tower blocks, until the Grenfell Tower fire.
Sadly, that disaster showed how ACM can help fire spread quickly through a building.
Other types of cladding are also unsafe, like High Pressure Laminate (HPL), which enabled the spread of fire at Lakanal House in 2009.
After Grenfell, the UK government have started changing the law to a) stop these materials being used in new buildings, and b) encourage their replacement in existing blocks.
Your landlord is required to keep you safe from fire: the relevant law includes The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
See further information at the foot of this page.
The government is banning combustible materials on new high-rise homes and giving support to local authorities to carry out emergency remediation work. The latest information about this can be seen here.
Since 2005, Scottish building regulations have outlawed the use of ACM — or any flammable cladding — on buildings of more than 18 metres high. Even before 2005, buildings had to meet a very stringent ‘anti-flame spread classification’. In other words, Scottish tenants can feel pretty secure that their buildings won’t catch fire in the same way that Grenfell Tower did.
The Scottish Government has published a factsheet: ACM cladding in Scotland: questions and answers. This confirms that all 32 Scottish local authorities have reported that no local authority or social high rise domestic properties in Scotland have been extensively clad in ACM.
There’s no way to tell for certain what type of cladding has been used on a tower block, just by looking at it. All materials would need an expert to test them.
It is important to understand that the safety of cladding is not just about the outer layer. There is likely to be insulation underneath, and it is the safety of the entire ‘system’ which has to be assessed.
Ask what kind of cladding is on your building, and, if it is unsafe, what your landlord is doing about it.
The best way to find out for sure is to ask your landlord to check their records to see when cladding or insulation was installed, and what material it is.
They should be able to do this easily by checking the cladding certificate or referring to the most recent Fire Risk Assessment. Any external cladding should be mentioned in the Fire Risk Assessment, though it might not mention exactly what material it is.
You can copy this letter to ask your landlord for this information.
If your landlord is a Local Authority (council) you may use the Freedom of Information Act to request information about the type of cladding used.
Some housing associations are not liable to Freedom of Information, but they a well-run housing association generally answer a reasonable question of this sort.
See below for further routes to take if none of these are bringing you a response.
Let us know your email address, and we’ll follow up in a few weeks’ time to see whether there’s been any progress on your issue, and to get your thoughts on how we can make FixMyBlock more helpful. We will only use this for one survey email.