By Ayla Clissold, Associate Solicitor, Residential Property
Following the tragedy of Grenfell Tower, the Government established a Building Safety Programme and rightly launched an immediate independent review of building regulations and fire safety, which resulted in 'The Building Safety Act 2022' (the ‘Act’). The Act is technical and covers a wide range of issues.
Crucially, the Act requires landlords of ‘relevant buildings’ to undertake any works necessary to ensure the building meets the requisite safety legislation, as determined in the Act. A ‘relevant building’ is defined as a building which (a) is at least 11 metres in height or has at least five storeys (whichever is reached first); and (b) contains at least two dwellings; and (c) is not a leaseholder-owned building.
The Act sets out who will pay for the costs of remedial works, although determining who bears responsibility for this can be complex. In a nutshell, if the leaseholder who occupied the property on 14 February 2022 used the property as their main residence, or the leaseholder owned no more than two other properties in the UK at the time, the lease will be a ‘qualifying lease’.
In this scenario, the landlord will not be able to charge the leaseholder for the cost of remedial works for unsafe cladding systems through the service charge. However, if the lease has been extended since 14 February 2022, then because of an unintended drafting anomaly in the Act, the leaseholder protections for that lease are likely to be lost.
If the leaseholder does not meet the above criteria, the lease is a ‘non-qualifying lease’ and the landlord can charge the cost of the remedial works to the leaseholders.
Ascertaining whether a lease is qualifying is therefore essential, as this allows any future purchaser to understand if they will be expected to pay towards expensive Building Safety remedial costs in the future. As the full effect of the Act and guidance remains to be seen in practice, buyers are advised to treat such purchases with caution, as they could end up being very costly investments.
This blog is not intended as legal advice that can be relied upon and CooperBurnett LLP does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of its contents.
Originally published in The Times of Tunbridge Wells: https://www.timeslocalnews.co.uk