The government has announced that homeowners will now have up to fifteen years to sue over ‘shoddy’ building work in a move aimed at tackling the cladding issue that arose following the Grenfell tragedy.
Speaking to the BBC, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said that the law would apply retrospectively and would increase the amount of time that homeowners were able to sue from six years to fifteen. Most of the homes affected in the cladding scandal, said Jenrick, were built between 2000 and 2017.
The change is due to be part of the government’s Building Safety Bill.
However, industry comment was mixed. Some, such as Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at Ringley, were supportive of the government’s new direction.
She said: “The introduction of the building safety regulator shows that the government is moving in the right direction in regard to building safety in the UK. Originally suggested by Dame Judith Hackitt in the Hackitt Review, the building safety regulator will take a front seat in ensuring the safety levels of high-rise residential buildings are up to standard. Developers who are looking to join the New Homes Ombudsman scheme should be made to reach the key requirements of building safety before being allowed to join the scheme. We expect this to become a differentiator that great developers will want to embrace. For far too long now, thousands of leaseholders have been trapped in unsafe apartment buildings across the UK and we’re hopeful that the government is finally starting on the correct path to tackling Britain’s chronic problem with build quality.”
Others were more critical. Shilpa Mathuradas, head of property litigation at Osbornes Law, said: “This announcement has been hailed as a ‘huge step forward’ for homeowners but unfortunately that is wildly optimistic. In reality it is likely to make very little difference to those leaseholders trapped in effectively worthless unsaleable homes following the Grenfell tragedy. The change still relies on leaseholders making a huge financial commitment to issue court proceedings which are expensive and risky and can often take several years. Additionally, I can foresee many builders and developers simply going insolvent in the wake of a wave of claims, leaving homeowners with no way of pursuing them.”
(Weekly, fortnightly or monthly)