Leasehold Property Rights expert, Mike Hansom, considers today’s announcement that some leaseholders are to be given more time to sue developers and freeholders for “shoddy workmanship”.
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Building Safety Bill
Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, today announced that the Building Safety Bill, which is due to be laid before parliament on Monday, will include a measure designed to help leaseholders caught in the current combustible cladding crisis and who are seeking to bring legal proceedings against developers and freeholders.
It’s understood that leaseholders of buildings completed after 2010 will be able to take legal action until 2025, a retrospective increase in the limitation period for such actions from six to fifteen years.
Mr Jenrick told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, “It is not right that either the leaseholder or the taxpayer should pay for fire safety changes. I’m announcing today we are going to change the law retrospectively to give every homeowner 15 years in which to take action against the people who built their building if there is shoddy workmanship. This is a huge step forward. The law as we found it was that you only had six years to take action against the person who built your home.”
Questioned about buildings that are already over 15 years old, Mr Jenrick said “most of the cladded buildings were built in the period from 2000 to 2017. Not all, but the lions’ share that are facing this particular issue will now be helped by this unusual change in the law.”
Currently, more than 2,000 high-rise blocks have cladding which is similar to that used on Grenfell Tower. The government has announced £5.1 billion in public funding to help address the issue, but it’s estimated that the total cost of addressing fire safety issues, including non-cladding defects, is going to be at least £15 billion.
The UK Cladding Action Group, which represents many of the leaseholders who are seeking redress from developers and freeholders, said suing developers was not the solution. In response to Mr Jenrick’s announcement, they Tweeted “Most developers don’t exist and where they do, we don’t have money for litigation.”
The proposed change will not help a significant minority of leaseholders whose blocks were built before 2010. And even for those in newer blocks, many are already facing bills for rectification works of up to £100,000 in respect of flats that are currently unsaleable.