The Building Safety Bill – Rights, Powers and Protections for Residents

The Building Safety Bill – Rights, Powers and Protections for Residents

10:30 AM, 5th July 2021, About 4 weeks ago 11

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The Building Safety Bill, published 5 July 2021, will set a pathway for the future on how residential buildings should be constructed and maintained.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick will today outline the next key step in an extensive overhaul to building safety legislation, giving residents more power to hold builders and developers to account and toughening sanctions against those who threaten their safety.

The Building Safety Regulator will oversee the new regime and will be responsible for ensuring that any building safety risks in new and existing high rise residential buildings of 18m and above are effectively managed and resolved, taking cost into account.

This will include implementing specific gateway points at design, construction and completion phases to ensure that safety is considered at each and every stage of a building’s construction, and safety risks are considered at the earliest stage of the planning process.

These changes will simplify the existing system to ensure high standards are continuously met, with a ‘golden thread’ of information created, stored and updated throughout the building’s lifecycle, establishing clear obligations on owners and enabling swift action to be taken by the regulator, wherever necessary.

New measures in the Building Safety Bill introduced today will:

  • Ensure there are clearly identified people responsible for safety during the design, build and occupation of a high-rise residential building.
  • Establish a Building Safety Regulator to hold to account those who break the rules and are not properly managing building safety risks, including taking enforcement action where needed.
  • Give residents in these buildings more routes to raise concerns about safety, and mechanisms to ensure their concerns will be heard and taken seriously.
  • Extend rights to compensation for substandard workmanship and unacceptable defects.
  • Drive the culture change needed across the industry to enable the design and construction of high-quality, safe homes in the years to come.

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “This Bill will ensure high standards of safety for people’s homes, and in particular for high rise buildings, with a new regulator providing essential oversight at every stage of a building’s lifecycle, from design, construction, completion to occupation.

“The new building safety regime will be a proportionate one, ensuring those buildings requiring remediation are brought to an acceptable standard of safety swiftly, and reassuring the vast majority of residents and leaseholders in those buildings that their homes are safe.”

The reforms will tackle bad practice head on, building on Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, which highlighted a need for significant cultural and regulatory change.

Under the proposals, the government is more than doubling the amount of time, from 6 to 15 years, that residents can seek compensation for substandard construction work.

The changes will apply retrospectively. This means that residents of a building completed in 2010 would be able to bring proceedings against the developer until 2025.

These reforms also include new measures which apply to those seeking compensation for shoddy refurbishments which make the home unliveable.

Minister for Building and Fire Safety Lord Greenhalgh said: “The comprehensive steps we are taking today will ensure that industry and the regulatory system fully address the concerns raised in the ‘Building a Safer Future’ report by Dame Judith Hackitt.

“Though the overall risk of fire across all buildings remains low, we can’t be complacent – the more robust regime will take a proportionate and risk-based approach to remediation and other safety risks.

“And by increasing our measures of enforcement, we will make sure industry follows the rules – and is held to account when it doesn’t.”

The Bill will include powers to strengthen the regulatory framework for construction products, underpinned by a market surveillance and enforcement regime led nationally by the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS).

The national regulator will be able to remove products from the market that present safety risks and prosecute or use civil penalties against any business that breaks the rules and compromises public safety.

The Bill also contains measures to protect leaseholders by providing a legal requirement for building owners to explore alternative ways to meet remediation costs before passing these onto leaseholders, along with evidence that this has been done.

This builds on the government’s commitment to fully fund the cost of replacing unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in residential buildings 18 metres and over in England, with an unprecedented £5 billion investment in building safety. This is alongside the introduction of a new levy and a tax to ensure that industry pays its fair share towards the costs of cladding remediation.

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 homebuyer, including through the awarding of compensation. Developers who breach the requirement to belong to the New Homes Ombudsman may receive additional sanctions.

Chair of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety Dame Judith Hackitt said: “I am delighted that we have reached this important milestone for the Building Safety Bill. It is vital that we focus on getting the system right for the future and set new standards for building safety.

“Residents and other stakeholders need to have their confidence in high rise buildings restored and those who undertake such projects must be held to account for delivering safe buildings.”

National Fire Chiefs Council Chair, Mark Hardingham said: “We welcome this important Bill’s introduction as it will contribute to essential developments in fire safety.

“We are focused on working with government and partners to fix the broken building regime, make buildings safer and restore public confidence.”



Comments

by terry sullivan

13:07 PM, 5th July 2021, About 4 weeks ago

anothher quango--ineffective i expect

as for 15 years--we already have that--it is too short

by LaLo

13:15 PM, 5th July 2021, About 4 weeks ago

When is this likely to come in? This along with the abolition of section 21, minimum EPC 'C' rating coming, elec' certificates, £30,0000 - unlimited fines /imprisoment for breaking the rules I could go on !

by DALE ROBERTS

14:26 PM, 5th July 2021, About 4 weeks ago

Neat but immoral sidestep Jenrick.
The government is responsible for implementing and overseeing the regime of building regulations and enforcing same and this has been so for decades.
The government therefore cannot escape the fact that it has culpability.
It isn't leaseholders who are responsible for or oversaw the building of their units.
To now make them responsible for suing those builders for shoddy historic building works, that have left them vulnerable to ever escalating costs AND to remediate same, indicates an egregious, biased and partisan lack of awareness of the true scale and scandal of this matter.
However, it does continue to expose the very cosy relationship enjoyed by the Tories and their developer funders.
Most developers are no longer in business. The cost of litigation is astronomical and could in the courts for decades.
You have once again made leaseholders responsible for bad legislative governance.
This is not a solution. It's a glory kick into your own net.
If you bought a home that needs an intrusive survey every five years to ensure it is still safe you should never have been sold that home in the first place

by Ian Narbeth

16:41 PM, 5th July 2021, About 4 weeks ago

We will have to analyse the Bill but as so often with the Government this seems like too much and not enough! Retrospectively extending the time limit for making a claim from 6 to 15 years is a bad precedent. What other time-barred claims should be allowed? How can businesses plan and assess their liabilities when the rules change after a job is finished?
Extending the time limit may play havoc with the professional indemnity insurance industry, who would stand behind a negligent contractor. Unless insurers are compelled by Government to accept liability they may seek to avoid claims under their terms and conditions and the contractor will then be exposed and probably insolvent meaning the directors will cause the company to cease trading.
Many large scale projects are constructed by single purpose vehicles (SPVs) which are set up for one project only. This Bill will lead to more developments being done like that. If the "developer" is wound up within a year or two of a project completing, it makes no difference if the time limit is 6 years or 15.
Files may not have been kept for 15 years so anyone wanting to claim for a building constructed in 2006/07 may have difficulty obtaining evidence.
This just seems like an exercise in "doing something" so that Mr Jenrick can piously announce that he is helping leaseholders. Whilst I don't have Dale Roberts' rather cynical view, I do think this is not a solution.
Inviting leaseholders to speculate tens of thousands of pounds on complex litigation and to risk having to pay costs is useless and will not as Jenrick claims "tip the balance decisively in the favour of the consumer … with developers sent a clear message that if they build substandard homes, they will pay the consequences".
Most SPV developers are wound up after a development is finished. The shareholders of developers that are not actively trading but are still in existence will now be looking to wind the companies up and distribute the assets. Even if leaseholders have a good legal case (and it will be rare to have a straightforward claim) the defendant company may well be wound up before the leaseholders can collect.
Even if (a) the leaseholders are flush with money (b) the developer still exists, (c) the paperwork still exists. (d) the leaseholders can prove negligence on the part of someone involved in the project, it will take at least 12 to 18 months to get to court and then many more months of litigation. That still does not fix the problem.

by TrevL

18:19 PM, 7th July 2021, About 4 weeks ago

So basic, non-compliance with the law, i.e. building regulations is now to be dealt with prmerily as a civil matter, not by ensuring comliance through sufficent building control......so weak.

Grenfell, and many of the other 'faults' that are coming from to the fore are as a result of insufficent enforcement and prosecution of the developers/builders, and it won't rectified by pushing the means of this prosecution onto the little guy to solve.

by Shining Wit

10:49 AM, 10th July 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Definitely a case of the government wants the problem to go away - but because they don't actually want to solve it, they try to come up with something that looks like a solution.
Even on initial inspection, this clearly won't work.
Where does the magic figure of 15 years come from?
How are leaseholders (and there could be over a hundred in a large block, more in some of the bigger complexes), supposed to coordinate themselves in a complex legal battle with, as pointed out above, a real chance of losing on a technicality. If they do win, the developer's SPV won't still be in existence to pay.
Leaseholders are already receiving MASSIVE bills for Safety Remediation works, which they have to pay NOW - even though they don't have the resources available....
Could you and all your neighbours suddenly find £70,000 plus to pay a remediation bill?
I know I couldn't - and I don't think my neighbours could either.

On a related subject, has anyone else read the details of the £50 per month 'forced loan' and how the capital will be repaid?
I must have missed that bit in the press summary.

by DALE ROBERTS

12:19 PM, 10th July 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Shining Wit at 10/07/2021 - 10:49
The "debt" is assigned to the building ie the leaseholder who lives in or buys into the development is liable for the debt as an ongoing expense.

by Ian Narbeth

10:23 AM, 13th July 2021, About 3 weeks ago

I am pleased to see that even Tory MPs are saying this new law is useless. Inviting people who are struggling to pay additional costs to embark on litigation is crass.
The Government promise a "Generous finance scheme to provide reassurance for leaseholders in buildings between 11 and 18 metres (4 to 6 storeys), ensuring they never pay more than £50 a month for cladding removal". This is just headline-grabbing. £50 is an arbitrary figure. Will it be the same in Westminster as in Worksop?
In some cases £50 a month won't cover the interest on the loan needed to repair the cladding. One possible solution is for Government to provide secured loans but with minimal lending criteria so that nearly all leaseholders qualify. We also need approved systems and some way of vetting the installers so that leaseholders don't end up with fresh problems in future from shoddy and expensive repairs.

by DALE ROBERTS

17:32 PM, 13th July 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 13/07/2021 - 10:23
No innocent leaseholder should be liable for any historical building defect.
There is a very cogent expose on the above :
https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-house-mafia-the-scandal-of-new-builds
I particularly like the following from the article :
"Above all, a full Competition and Market Authority inquiry into UK housebuilders is long overdue. Powerful vested interests benefit mightily from this high-price, low-build-quality gridlock. They make big political donations to protect the status quo."

by Ian Narbeth

10:20 AM, 14th July 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by DALE ROBERTS at 13/07/2021 - 17:32Dale, that's all well and good and sounds fine but life isn't fair. There are any number of cases where we could say: "No innocent [DESCRIBE THEM] should be liable for [SOME ILL THAT BEFALLS THEM]" but unless the Government is willing (a) to get ripped off by some of the same people who may be found to have caused the cladding problems and (b) to write out a massive blank cheque, this problem does not look like it will be fixed without cost to leaseholders.
The article we are commenting on is about Jenrick's hare-brained scheme to encourage impecunious leaseholders to risk everything on speculative litigation.
How long will a full Competition and Market Authority inquiry take to hear evidence and report? How long after that before its recommendations are implemented? All the while the cladding is not getting fixed. I am happy to hear a better idea than mine but I don't think a public inquiry is it.

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