Welcome to this week’s building safety bulletin. This page outlines some of the significant news and changes affecting developers, leaseholders, contractors, housing providers, and anyone else interested in the UK’s building safety crisis.
1. Leasehold abolition to be dropped
The Guardian has reported that the government is abandoning its plans to abolish the leasehold system. Michael Gove has described leasehold as an ‘outdated feudal system’ and, in an interview with The Sunday Times in January, said it should go. Matthew Pennycook, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning, responded to these reports by saying they represent the ‘latest broken promise in 13 years of failure’ and that a future Labour government would implement the Law Commission’s recommendations on commonhold and the right to manage.
2. Remediation code of practice bill
Conservative MP Tom Hunt, who has been representing residents at Cardinal Lofts and St Francis Tower, has called on parliamentary colleagues to pass a legally binding code of conduct for developers carrying out fire safety remediation work. Speaking on the Cladding Remediation Works (Code of Practice) Bill, the Ipswich MP said the Building Safety Act 2022 is a positive development, but what has received less attention is how, to what timescales, and to what standards fire safety remediation works are carried out. The code of practice for remediation works would cover issues such as what type of material is to be used, what standards on communications with residents will be set, timescales and what the penalties will be if they are missed. The Bill will go to a second reading in November.
3. Interest rates increase
Last week, the Bank of England announced that it would be raising its base rate from 4.25% to 4.5%, the 12th successive time that its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has increased rates since December 2021. It is possible that the rise in the cost of borrowing will impact leaseholders living in unsafe buildings now looking for lending following the decision in December of major banks such as HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds and Nationwide to start considering mortgage applications for properties affected by cladding.
4. Developer remediation contract
There are no updates signatories to the government’s self-remediation contract, committing developers to taking responsibility for fixing life-critical fire safety defects associated with buildings 11 metres and over that have been developed in the last three decades. As of 2 May, 47 developers have signed up to the contract. There are three that have not – Abbey Developments, Dandara and Rydon Homes.