Perhaps one of the most anticipated pieces of legislation for all those in the property industry in recent years, The Building Safety Act 2022 (the “Act”) finally sees its first statutory instrument being brought into force after receiving Royal Assent on 28 April 2022. Numerous regulations are expected to be introduced implementing the Act over the next 18 months, and so to some extent the Act is still a work in progress, but this is the first of these regulations and implements parts of the Act from 28 June 2022. Of particular interest is the significant extensions to the limitation period for building defect claims under the Defective Premises Act 1972.
The Building Safety Act (Commencement No 1, Transitional and Saving Provisions) Regulations 2022 (SI2022/561) (the “Regulations”), will bring several sections of the Act into law, as detailed below:
- Extending the scope of the Defective Premises Act 1972 from 28 June 2022 and introducing new causes of action against construction products manufacturers and extending limitation periods for claims brought under the Defective Premises Act 1972. The limitation period is being extended retrospectively for work already completed from 6 to 30 years and a limitation period of 15 years is being introduced for claims that arise after the date of implementation, 28 June 2022. This will hopefully bring much needed recourse to many leaseholders across the country who may previously have been time barred from bringing claims against landlords, developers and builders.
- The introduction of Building Liability Orders on 28 June 2022, with the government’s power to prescribe who can apply for such an order to be brought into force on 28 May 2022. Building Liability Orders will grant the High Court power to extend the specific liabilities of one company to any other associated companies and to make them jointly and severally liable, for example the parent company of a developer or builder. In some cases this should provide an additional recourse to leaseholders who are not currently able to claim against a developer or landlord to fund remediation works.
- The inclusion of the definition of a “higher-risk building” for England into the Act, which will come into force on 28 June 2022. A “higher-risk building” being one that is taller than 18 meters or more than seven stories high, containing at least 2 residential units.
- Introducing Part 2 of the Act and putting the new Building Safety Regulator on a statutory footing on 28 June 2022. The Building Safety Regulator will oversee the safety and standards of all buildings and so will supervise all other building control bodies and approved inspectors to ensure buildings are constructed safely before they can be sold. The Regulator will also be responsible for implementing the regime for higher-risk buildings and will have a duty to provide building safety risks assistance and encouragement to help secure the safety of people in or about a high-risk building. They will also be responsible for overseeing the safety and performance of all buildings, not just those which are higher risk, and their role will be to assist with competence across the built environment sector and building control profession.
- Section 48 of the Act will also be brought into force on 28 July 2022 amending sections 47, 51A(2) and 56 of the Building Act 1984, to remove the requirements relating to insurance for approved inspectors.
- Section 160 of the Act which enable social housing complainants to escalate a complaint to the Housing Ombudsman service directly, will be brought into force on 1 October 2022.
Whilst the implementation of the Act is due to take place in stages and we are yet to see how many parts of the Act will operate in practice, there is no doubt that these changes should reduce the problems with new build or newly refurbished properties and place some homeowners and leaseholders living in unsafe buildings on a better footing when they approach their respective landlords and developers to require them to undertake necessary remedial works.
Should you have any questions on the new legislation or require assistance in connection with building defects or unsafe buildings, please contact Joanna Osborne, Megan Harding or any member of the Edwin Coe Property Litigation team.
For more information on the Building Safety Act 2022, please see the blog prepared by Joanna Osborne, Head of Property Litigation and Brenna Baye, Partner in the Construction and Engineering Team.
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Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.
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