27th January 2022

The Building Safety Bill passed the third reading in the House of Commons on 19 January 2022.

This was somewhat overshadowed by the surprise announcement on 10 January 2022 by Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Housing, that developers will be forced to pay an estimated £4 billion to remediate unsafe cladding on residential buildings 11-18 metres in height.

Reporting on the Bill to the House of Commons, Christopher Pincher MP (Minister of State for Housing) stopped short of clarifying whether the Bill would be amended to include Mr Gove’s proposed protection for leaseholders; but he acknowledged that steps “to improve the appropriate legislative and statutory protections for leaseholders” would be brought forward “in a parliamentary way”. No further details were forthcoming despite several questions from the House.

As we reported on 10 January 2022, section 119 of the Bill has now been amended to include retrospective extension of the limitation period for claims under section 1 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 from 6 years to 30 years (a substantial increase from the 15 years originally proposed). This means that claimants with causes of action accruing before the Act comes into force will benefit from this generous extension of the time available to bring their claims. However, the prospective extension of the limitation period – that is, for causes of action accruing after the Act comes into force – will remain 15 years as per the original draft Bill.

Other amendments under discussion during the third reading concerned the scope and powers of the new homes ombudsman scheme which is designed to improve redress and consumer protection for home buyers in new buildings.

The Bill will now go to the House of Lords for the first of three readings there. This part of the legislative process will also include consideration by the Lords at Committee Stage – so there is still a long way to go before the Bill is enacted.

Author: Lynne McCafferty QC

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