As we continue to emerge from lockdown measures and deal with local measures and the short and long term economic impact of Covid-19, local authorities will need to re-assess how services will be delivered for years to come.
The Government announced on 16 May that it will provide a fund of £400m to cover the costs of removal and replacement of cladding to high rise residential blocks which have failed tests.
Part of the reason for this is to ensure funding is not diverted from other essential maintenance and repair budgets. The question is whether this is anywhere near enough? As 266 blocks failed BRE tests, the remedial costs are likely to be very substantial and will probably exceed £1billion.
Our view is that it could be sufficient provided that contractors make appropriate contributions where they have breached legal duties. We were recently approached by a registered provider of social housing for advice on cladding issues. A national contractor had installed cladding to two of their high rise blocks through a sub-contractor. The cladding had failed the tests and subsequently needed to be removed. So, the cladding was stripped off, our clients waited and waited for the contractor who was responsible for installing it to come up with a remedial solution. The problems were compounded as additional defects came to light on removal. As the likely costs increased, the contractor backtracked and delayed in organising remedial works. After a period of some 5 months, we advised that our clients should appoint experts to advise on a remedial solution and then get the remedial works done by an alternative contractor. We explained that it is not a legal requirement for remedial works to be carried out by the original contractor after the expiry of the rectification period.
We informed the original contractor and their lawyers of the approach that would be taken, they were not happy! We suspect that they did not want to commit until they could be sure of recovery from their subcontractors. Our clients remained firm about their intention to have the works done by an alternative contractor and as a consequence, negotiations commenced. A substantial contribution was agreed by the original contractor to the costs of removal and replacement without the need for legal proceedings. No doubt, the contractor is taking steps to recover these sums from their sub-contractors.
Our top tips for addressing cladding issues are:
- Appoint your own expert at an early stage to advise on the full nature and extent of the defects and the correct remedial solutions.
- Keep the original contractor informed but remain in control of the process. It is not a legal requirement for them to carry out the remedial solutions unless this makes sense.
- Take advice about your recovery options. A firm approach should result in appropriate recovery of costs at an early stage.
If you have any questions or queries relating to this article, please get in touch with Andrew Lancaster.
The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
One change proposed by the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of a duty holder regime, which will see statutory responsibility for the safety of higher risk buildings placed on key individuals
Throughout this pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been publishing various “Statements on Coronavirus” (Statements) which provide guidance on consumer rights during this time.
A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK means new measures are being put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of a second wave. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it is important to remain focused on the sector’s road to recovery.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Following our recent e-briefing on Possession Notices, Helen Tucker and Emilie Pownall from our housing litigation team discuss the impact of the changes on social landlords.
Not only has the possession stay been extended until 20 September, the notice periods to be given to tenants has been extended in certain circumstances with some important exceptions.
The Court has confirmed that a party cannot withhold its consent in order to re-write the original bargain.
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