Years On, Some Buildings Still Have Unsafe Cladding ' Who Will Pay For Remediation Works?

Publication Date22 March 2021
SubjectReal Estate and Construction, Construction & Planning, Landlord & Tenant - Leases
Law FirmGowling WLG
AuthorMs Sue Ryan, Sean Garbutt and Cathy Moore

Over three years since the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Fire Safety Bill and the Building Safety Bill are anticipated to come into effect early this year.

In December 2020, in a significant vote, the House of Lords proposed amendments to the Fire Safety Bill that would protect leaseholders from the remediation costs associated with the replacement of dangerous cladding panels.

In February, the House of Commons rejected those key amendments. Following the latest consideration in the House of Lords on Wednesday of this week, we review the progress of the Bill.

Developments

As we reported last year, the House of Lords approved amendments to the Fire Safety Bill, which included a provision that building owners could not pass on remediation costs required by the Bill (to address fire safety) to leaseholders or tenants.

That amendment (Amendment 4) was rejected by the House of Commons, along with two others relating to the creation of a national public register for fire risk assessments and duties for owners/managers. Amendments relating to compliance with risk-based guidance were agreed by the Commons.

House of Commons debate - 24 February 2021

When the Lords amendments were returned to the Commons in late February for debate on Amendment 4, the Minister of State for Crime and Policing, Kit Malthouse, stated that the Government agreed with "the intent to give leaseholders peace of mind and financial certainty" but that the Fire Safety Bill was "not the correct place for remediation costs to be addressed". The Fire Safety Bill is a short and specific bill dealing with fire assessments in multi-occupied residential buildings and any attempt to provide for remediation costs in that Bill would only relate to defects uncovered through a fire risk assessment.

The Minister stated explicitly that the Building Safety Bill would address remediation costs - it would be a "once-in-a-generation change to the building safety regime". He added that "it will bring about fundamental change in both the regulatory framework for building safety and the construction industry culture, creating a more accountable system to ensure that a tragedy such as Grenfell can never happen again".

Sarah Jones, a Labour MP, criticised the "snail's pace" of progress by...

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