Home buyers will have a retrospective right to sue for shoddy building work 15 years after completion date under the Building Safety Bill, published today

The extension of time in which to seek compensation, from six years, is part of a package of proposals designed to improve building safety and rights for leaseholders following the Grenfell disaster and resulting cladding costs scandal.

Robert Jenrick, housing secretary, yesterday told the BBC the law change will help leaseholders claim compensation for cladding removal costs. The law change will apply retrospectively, meaning homeowners in a building completed in 2011, for instance, will have until 2026 to take action.

He said: “I want the developers, the builders, the warranty companies, the insurers to pay up.

“I want shoddy workmanship to be paid for by the people who did it, not by the leaseholders.” Jenrick said the “lion’s share” of buildings identified as fitted with dangerous cladding would qualify under the 15-year law.

However campaign groups have immediately questioned the extent to which leaseholders will be in a position to fund costly legal challenges.

The legislation provides a legal requirement for building owners to explore alternative ways to meet remediation costs before passing these onto leaseholders. Developers will also have to join and remain members of the New Homes Ombudsman Scheme, which will require them to “provide redress” to a home buyer.

The Building Safety Bill includes previously announced measures including the establishment of a new regulator for buildings more than 18m in height. The government has said the bill will “ensure there are clearly identified people responsible for safety during the design, build and occupation of a high-rise residential building.”

The bill includes powers to strengthen the regulatory framework for construction products, underpinned by a market surveillance and enforcement regime.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, said: “The national regulator will be able to remove products from the market that present safety risks and prosecute or use civil penalties against any business that breaks the rules and compromises public safety.”

Lord Stephen Greenhalgh, minister for building and fire safety, said: ”Though the overall risk of fire across all buildings remains low, we can’t be complacent – the more robust regime will take a proportionate and risk-based approach to remediation and other safety risks.    

“And by increasing our measures of enforcement, we will make sure industry follows the rules – and is held to account when it doesn’t.”

The government said last month that it expects that 75 of the 468 buildings over 18m in height identified with Grenfell-style aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding to still require work going into 2022.

At-a-glance:  Building Safety Bill measures

According to MHCLG, new bill, published today, will:

  • Ensure there are clearly identified people responsible for safety during the design, build and occupation of a high-rise residential building.
  • Establish a Building Safety Regulator to hold to account those who break the rules and are not properly managing building safety risks, including taking enforcement action where needed.
  • Give residents in these buildings more routes to raise concerns about safety, and mechanisms to ensure their concerns will be heard and taken seriously.   
  • Extend rights to compensation for substandard workmanship and unacceptable defects.    
  • Drive the culture change needed across the industry to enable the design and construction of high-quality, safe homes in the years to come.

Source: MHCLG