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Buildings: Fire Prevention

Question for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

UIN 27095, tabled on 5 July 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what (a) financial, (b) advisory and c) evidential support he plans to provide to leaseholders that are seeking to take developers to court in cases involving liability for fire safety remediation.

Answered on

13 July 2021

The Government's proposed changes to the Defective Premises Act 1972 as part of the Building Safety Bill will more than double the time available to seek compensation for substandard building work from six to 15 years. These new measures will provide a legal route to redress that previously would not have been possible for hundreds of buildings, benefitting thousands of leaseholders.

There are various limitation periods set in the Limitation Act 1980 for different types of civil claim. These range from 12 months (for defamation or the late payment of insurance claims) to six years (for claims relating to some types of contracts) to a long stop of 15 years for cases involving negligence. A 15-year limitation period has been chosen to bring the Defective Premises Act in line with other types of serious civil claim.

The Government has been clear that those responsible must pay towards the cost of remediating defective buildings. It is fundamental that the industry that caused this issue contributes to setting things right. Some parts of the industry have done the right thing, funding remediation of serious historic defects, but this is not happening in all cases. In many cases, those who caused the problems are evading responsibility. That is why we are taking action, providing a route to redress so that those who caused these problems can be held accountable.

Along with retrospectively extending the limitation period under the Defective Premises Act, going forward we are also expanding the Defective Premises Act to include refurbishments, and we will be commencing section 38 of the Building Act 1984. These measures will also be subject to a 15-year limitation period. Together, these increased rights to redress will enhance accountability, with stronger incentives against shoddy workmanship, further reinforcing the culture change in the construction industry that the Building Safety Bill will drive.

These reforms are supported by more than £5 billion in direct grant funding for the remediation of dangerous cladding on high-rise buildings, where the risk to multiple households is greater when fire does spread; a significant proportion of this is funding the delivery of construction works now, or has funded work which has finished.