17 April 2023 by Jack Lambdon

The Building Safety Act 2022

Big changes are afoot regarding the safety of residential tower blocks since the Building Safety Act 2022 (“the Act”) came into force. Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Government and property industry have been trying to ensure buildings are safe. The Act has been put in place in the hope that there will never be another Grenfell.

What is the Building Safety Act?

The Building Safety Act 2022 is a system that has been put in place to ensure existing buildings are repaired and made safe and that new buildings are constructed safely. It also sets out protections for leaseholders from the burden of the costs to make their homes, and the building they live in, safe.

The legislation is complex and is constantly evolving and the whole property industry is trying to get to grips with it.

What changes have been made…

The Act sets out requirements for landlords of blocks of flats that have at least five storeys or are at least 11 metres in height. It requires them to repair any existing building defects and also to assess the safety of buildings and mitigate any identified risks.

The Act also sets out whether a landlord can recover the costs of any non-cladding repair works from the owners of flats and provides a cap on how much owners have to pay. Provided that, on 14 February 2022, the owner of the flat owns no more than three properties and the flat is their principal home, the amount payable by a flat owner is capped and is spread over ten years.

Where the building owner has a net worth of more than £2m, the repair costs cannot be passed on to any leaseholder whose flat is worth less than £325,000 in London (£175,000 in the rest of England). Qualifying flat owners are also not expected to pay towards replacing external cladding systems.

A flat owner is required to provide their landlord with a certificate to confirm whether they are a qualifying tenant and can benefit from the cap in costs. A landlord is required to issue a certificate to a flat owner if they want to pass on any repair costs and when a flat is being sold.

Buildings over 7 storeys or 18 metres are deemed to be at even higher risk and landlords will have further duties and obligations to ensure those buildings are safe.

How does the Building Safety Act affect a Seller?

Unfortunately, the new legislation could cause delays to the sale of a flat whilst the necessary information is gathered by a landlord. Flat owners who are selling their properties should request a Landlord Certificate as early as possible to minimise any potential delays while landlords deal with requests and prepare their certificate. Flat owners should also complete their required certificate as soon as possible.

If remediation works are required, it will need to be determined what the costs are and who will be paying them: will the seller pay or will the buyer? If works have already begun, a retention may be required to be held by the seller’s solicitor until the bill for the works needs to be paid.

How does the Building Safety Act affect a Buyer?

If repair works are required to the building, will this affect the use of the flat? Scaffolding may block light to the flat. Depending on the nature of the works, it might be necessary to relocate to temporary accommodation. A buyer’s mortgage lender will also have requirements that will need to be met in order for them to complete a mortgage.

Unfortunately, sellers and buyers of flats in buildings affected by the Act may be in for a rough ride and a lengthy conveyancing process whilst the industry gets to grips with the new requirements.

More than ever, it is important to have a good conveyancer. At Bolt Burdon Solicitors, we have a team of experienced conveyancers who can apply the law in practical ways and think outside the box to achieve a satisfactory sale or purchase for you.

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