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The Building Safety Bill
- AuthorThomas Browne
Setting out the future on how residential buildings should be constructed and maintained
The Building Safety Bill published on 5 July 2021 will create a clear pathway for the future of how residential buildings should be constructed and maintained.
The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, indicated that the move was intended to give residents “greater powers to seek redress from developers whose work is simply not up to scratch”. It will give residents more powers to hold builders and developers to account and toughen sanctions against those who threaten their safety.
A new Building Safety Regulator will oversee the new regime and be responsible for ensuring any safety risks in new and existing high rise residential buildings of 18 metres and above are effectively managed.
Under the proposal, the government is additionally more than doubling the amount of time from 6 to 15 years in which residents can seek compensation for substandard construction works. This extended limitation period will also apply retrospectively, allowing residents of a building completed in 2010 to sue a developer for poor workmanship or the installation of unsafe materials at any point until 2025.
The Bill has been placed before Parliament and reinforced the findings made by Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of Buildings Regulations and Fire Safety following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Currently under the Defective Premises Act 1972 developers can face claims for compensation if premises are “not fit for habitation” or failed to use “proper materials”. These changes will apply retrospectively, to cover building developments which have been completed some years previously. Rupert Jenrrick indicated that the playing field was being re-balanced to ensure that claims could be brought against builders and developers for their shoddy workmanship. Those costs have too often fallen on home owners and the government is seeking to change that. Mr Jenrick indicated that “this will tip the balance decisively in favour of the consumer and help drive up standards across the industry, with developers sent a clear message that if they build sub-standard homes, they will pay the consequences”.
Developers will also be required to join and remain members of the “New Homes Ombudsman” scheme which will require them to provide redress to a home buyer, including through the awarding of compensation. Developers who breach this requirement to belong to the Ombudsman scheme are likely to receive additional sanctions.
If you are a developer who is concerned by elements of this legislation, or a householder who would wish to initiate a claim against any home builder, they should not hesitate to contact the Dispute Resolution Team at Kingsfords. Thomas Browne is a very experienced solicitor within the Litigation and Disputes Department and a member of the Property Litigation Association and the Society of Construction Lawyers.