The Building Safety Act comes into force today, protecting qualifying leaseholders living in buildings above 11 metres tall or with at least five storeys, from extortionate building safety costs.
Thousands of leaseholders have found themselves with crippling remediation bills and unable to put their properties on the market, as an unintended consequence of post-Grenfell safety regulations.
From today, the costs will be borne by the freeholder and it will be illegal for them to pass on historical building safety costs.
However where costs are not recoverable from freeholders, landlords and building owners will be forced to foot the bill. For leaseholders to qualify for full protection, they must be living in their own homes, or can own up to three UK properties in total; this offers some relief for smaller landlords.
They will also have robust and far-reaching 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.
Hundreds of thousands of innocent leaseholders now have the legal protection they rightly deserve…”
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).
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.
Commenting on the new legislation, the Secretary of State for housing, Michael Gove said, “Today marks a major turning point for building safety in this country, as we introduce a tough new regime to make homes safe and help rid the sector of bad practice once and for all.
“Hundreds of thousands of innocent leaseholders now have the legal protection they rightly deserve, freeing them from a financial burden they should never have faced.
“I’m pleased that most of the largest developers have agreed to play their part in solving this.
“But there is more to do – we are focusing intensively on work with lenders to unlock the mortgage market and empower leaseholders to take their next step on the property ladder, and we will remain vigilant if anyone fails to act on the pledges they have made.”