Buildings: Fire Prevention

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities written question – answered on 1st July 2022.

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Photo of James Murray James Murray Shadow Financial Secretary (Treasury)

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what his Department's policy is on whether the (a) developer, (b) contractors hired during construction, (c) leaseholders and (d) other associated parties are responsible for remediating historic fire safety issues on affected buildings.

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Minister for Housing)

The Government is clear that those responsible for historical building safety defects must pay to put them right.

The Government has delivered a wide-ranging industry agreement with 47 major residential property developers that they will remediate all buildings above 11 metres in height that they had a role in developing or refurbishing in the past 30 years. These developers have also pledged to refund money paid out by existing Government remediation schemes to fix buildings that they originally developed and will not apply for further funding. Where the developer cannot be traced or fails to agree to cover the costs, cladding remediation will be met by Government grant funding.

The Building Safety Act 2022 contains new powers to ensure that those responsible for building safety defects can be held to account. The Act retrospectively extends the limitation period under section 1 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 to 30 years; this provides a route to cost recovery from a wide range of parties, including contractors, developers and architects, where shoddy workmanship and corner cutting have caused buildings to be unsafe. In addition, other new powers in the Act ensure that construction product manufacturers can be held to account for their failures.

The Building Safety Act brings forward legal protections for leaseholders from historical building safety costs. The Act legally protects qualifying leaseholders (those living in their own home or with up to three UK properties in total) from all costs relating to the remediation of unsafe cladding and contains robust and far-reaching protections from non-cladding costs, including those relating to interim measures such as waking watches. Where those directly responsible (e.g. developers) cannot be held to account, building owners and landlords will now be the first port of call to pay for historical safety defects, not leaseholders.

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