To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whether his Department has plans to enable freeholders to pursue those responsible for defects through the legal recovery mechanisms set out in the Building Safety Act 2022 in order to be able to fund remediation works.
The Government is clear that those responsible for historical building safety defects must pay to put them right. The Building Safety Act 2022 brings forward robust and far-reaching legal protections for leaseholders from historical building safety costs. The leaseholder protection provisions eradicate the idea that the first port of call to pay to fix historical safety defects should be leaseholders. Where those directly responsible (e.g. developers) cannot be held to account, building owners and landlords are now the first port of call to pay for historical safety defects, not leaseholders.
The Act makes it clear who is liable to pay for the remediation of historical building safety defects. The Act sets out in law where the liability sits, and developers, building owners and landlords must meet their obligations. Besides the leaseholder protection measures, there is already a plan for the remediation of unsafe cladding - developers will fix their own buildings, and funding will continue to be available via the Building Safety Fund, as well as a new scheme for buildings between 11-18 metres.
Where it is not possible to identify those directly responsible for historical building safety defects, the protections spread the costs of decades of malpractice equitably across the system. Even where costs are shared with leaseholders up to the maximum capped account, building owner and landlords are liable for a share of the remainder, in accordance with the regulations on apportionment. The Act also contains enforcement powers for those circumstances where landlords and building owners do not comply with the leaseholder protection measures.
We want building owners and landlords to be able to pursue those responsible for defective work and recover costs to fund remediation works. That is why the Building Safety Act includes an ambitious toolkit of measures to allow those responsible for defective work to be pursued. The Act has retrospectively extended the limitation period under section 1 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 from 6 to 30 years. The Act extends the reach of civil liability to associated companies of developers, including trusts, to ensure that some of the largest businesses in the sector who have used shell companies and other complex corporate structures can be pursed for contributions. The Act has also created a cause of action which will allow manufacturers of construction products to be pursued where defective or mis-sold products have been used in buildings.
The leaseholder protections in the Building Safety Act came into force on 28 June 2022. On 28 June, the Government published a guide to building safety costs in England, which gave advice on Frequently Asked Questions, to explain these legal changes. The explanatory notes have been updated following Royal Assent and will be published shortly. The government also intends to publish more detailed guidance on how the leasehold protections work in practice, now that the accompanying secondary legislation has come into force.