Leasehold: Legal Costs

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 13th July 2021.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate he has made of the average legal costs incurred by leaseholders in pursuing claims against developers in court in cases involving liability for fire safety remediation costs.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate he has made of the proportion of buildings marketed by developers within the last 15 years that are affected by fire safety problems where those developers remain solvent and capable of paying for remediation, legal and other costs associated with any successful court case brought by current building owners.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what (a) financial, (b) advisory and c) evidential support he plans to provide to leaseholders that are seeking to take developers to court in cases involving liability for fire safety remediation.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to his comments of the 4 July 2021, in cases where a building with fire safety problems was marketed by developers (a) more than 15 years ago and (b) that are no longer solvent, what support he plans to make available to leaseholders to prevent them bearing the costs of remediation work.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to his comments of the 4 July 2021, in cases where a building with fire safety problems was marketed by developers that are no longer solvent (a) what support he plans to make available to leaseholders to prevent them bearing the costs of remediation work and (b) what options in law building owners have to pursue former Directors or other parties responsible for the conduct of the developer at the time the defective building was marketed by them.

Photo of Shabana Mahmood Shabana Mahmood National campaign co-ordinator

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate his Department has made of the number of buildings constructed with unsafe cladding materials that will be (a) included and (b) excluded from the proposed extension of the Defective Premises Act 1972 regulations from six to fifteen years.

Photo of Shabana Mahmood Shabana Mahmood National campaign co-ordinator

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate his Department has made of the number of premises constructed through Special Purpose Vehicles which may not be covered by the proposed extension of the Defective Premises Act 1972 regulations from six to fifteen years.

Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Government's proposed changes to the Defective Premises Act 1972 as part of the Building Safety Bill will more than double the time available to seek compensation for substandard building work from six to 15 years. These new measures will provide a legal route to redress that previously would not have been possible for hundreds of buildings, benefitting thousands of leaseholders.

There are various limitation periods set in the Limitation Act 1980 for different types of civil claim. These range from 12 months (for defamation or the late payment of insurance claims) to six years (for claims relating to some types of contracts) to a long stop of 15 years for cases involving negligence. A 15-year limitation period has been chosen to bring the Defective Premises Act in line with other types of serious civil claim.

The Government has been clear that those responsible must pay towards the cost of remediating defective buildings. It is fundamental that the industry that caused this issue contributes to setting things right. Some parts of the industry have done the right thing, funding remediation of serious historic defects, but this is not happening in all cases. In many cases, those who caused the problems are evading responsibility. That is why we are taking action, providing a route to redress so that those who caused these problems can be held accountable.

Along with retrospectively extending the limitation period under the Defective Premises Act, going forward we are also expanding the Defective Premises Act to include refurbishments, and we will be commencing section 38 of the Building Act 1984. These measures will also be subject to a 15-year limitation period. Together, these increased rights to redress will enhance accountability, with stronger incentives against shoddy workmanship, further reinforcing the culture change in the construction industry that the Building Safety Bill will drive.

These reforms are supported by more than £5 billion in direct grant funding for the remediation of dangerous cladding on high-rise buildings, where the risk to multiple households is greater when fire does spread; a significant proportion of this is funding the delivery of construction works now, or has funded work which has finished.

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