A series of measures set out in the Building Safety Act 2022 have come into force today (28 June), after the government prioritised them to protect leaseholders.
The measures that come into force today are:
- Qualifying leaseholders in buildings above 11m tall or with at least five storeys (those living in their own homes, or with up to three UK properties in total) will be protected from the costs associated with the remediation of unsafe cladding. They will also have protections from the costs associated with non-cladding defects, including interim measures like waking watches.
- It will be illegal for freeholders to pass on the cost of historical building repair works or the removal of cladding to any of their leaseholders, including non-qualifying leaseholders, if they are or are linked to the building’s developer.
- It will be illegal for freeholders to pass on any historical building safety costs to qualifying leaseholders if they pass the wealth test set out in law.
- Where a developer cannot be held responsible and the building owner is not required to meet the costs in full, leaseholders with non-cladding related issues will also be protected by a cap on how much they can pay for these costs. The cap will only apply to non-cladding-related work for those whose property is valued at more than £325,000 (London) and £175,000 outside London (owners of properties below this ceiling will pay nothing). Where leaseholders have bought through shared ownership, their cap will reflect their share of ownership in the property.
- Any costs that are not recoverable from leaseholders will need to be met by building owners and landlords.
- Buyers of new build homes will be able to hold their developer responsible for safety and quality issues under a new scheme from the New Homes Ombudsman.
Meanwhile, secretary of state Michael Gove has written to freeholders setting out their new legal responsibilities and makes clear there will be consequences if they do not comply
So far, a total of 45 of the UK’s biggest homebuilders have agreed to fix life-critical fire-safety defects on all buildings 11m+ that they have played a role in developing or refurbishing in the last 30 years.
Other measures in the Act include:
- New powers for the secretary of state to restrict irresponsible developers’ ability to build new homes, including if they refuse to take responsibility for fixing life-critical fire safety defects on all buildings 11m+ that they have played a role in developing or refurbishing in the last 30 years.
- Extending the Building Safety Levy to be charged on all new residential buildings. Expected to raise an estimated £3bn over 10 years, this will fund a new government scheme to pay for the removal of unsafe cladding on buildings of 11m-18m where the developer cannot be traced or has failed to agree to cover the costs upfront.
- Enhanced civil liabilities for building owners, enabling them to launch legal action against developers, contractors and manufacturers for shoddy construction works and defective products which have caused homes to be unhabitable in the past 30 years.
- Extra powers for the courts in England and Wales to go after associated companies.
- A new Building Safety Regulator, overseen by the Health & Safety Executive.
- A National Regulator for Construction Products.
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