Trowers' property litigation weekly update
This week we report on the first step in legal action by the Secretary of State against a freeholder in relation to unsafe cladding together with an update regarding home loss payments. This is accompanied, as usual, by our positive news and insights from around the firm.
Legal action by the Secretary of State in relation to unsafe cladding
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (the DLUHC) has announced it has taken the first step in legal action under the Building Safety Act 2022 (the BSA 2022) against the owner of a 15-storey residential tower block in Stevenage, for its failure to take steps to remedy fire safety defects relating to unsafe cladding.
The DLUHC has given Grey GR Limited Partnership a period of 21 days within which to commit to undertaking the necessary works, failing which an application to the First-tier Tribunal for a Remediation Order will be made. The application may also include a request for a Remediation Contribution Order against Grey GR's associated entities (Railways Pension Trustee Company Limited and Railtrust Holdings Limited) requiring them to contribute towards the remediation costs.
The BSA 2022 enables interested persons (which includes the Secretary of State, as well as leaseholders) to apply to the First-Tier Tribunal for orders requiring landlords to fix building safety defects, as well as to require persons associated with the landlord to contribute towards the cost of repairs. This is the first action taken by the Recovery Strategy Unit, set up by the DLUHC to identify and pursue firms to fix buildings, and comes after a delay by Grey GR of over two years (the block was registered with the Building Safety Fund in 2020 but no funding agreement was executed so no monies could be released).
It has been reported by DLUHC that there are a further 23 buildings registered with the Building Safety Fund where works have been unable to progress due to delays and so we may see more enforcement action over the coming year.
The BSA 2022 Act has made significant changes to the sector, and some secondary instruments and regulations are still awaited. The far-reaching changes and willingness of the DLUHC to enforce them, means it is very important that building owners and developers understand and take steps to comply with their obligations under the BSA 2022.
Increase to Home Loss Payments
Where a person is displaced from a dwelling in consequence of certain events (including where a local authority has exercised compulsory purchase powers or a registered provider is redeveloping the land) that person is entitled to a home loss payment pursuant to section 29 of the Land Compensation Act 1973 (the LCA 1973). This is designed to compensate people for the distress and inconvenience of having to move home at a time that is not of their choosing.
The Home Loss Payments (Prescribed Amounts) (England) Regulations 2022 came into force on 1 October 2022 and have revised the prescribed maximum and minimum amounts of home loss payments in England under section 30 of the Act where the date of displacement is after 1 October 2022.
Under section 30(1) of the LCA 1973, where a person is displaced in consequence of a compulsory acquisition of an interest in the dwelling (i.e. they are an owner-occupier) the home loss payment is calculated as 10% of the market value of the interest, subject to a maximum and minimum. The prescribed minimum amount is now £7,800 (increased from £7,100) and the prescribed maximum amount is now £78,000 (increased from £71,000).
Section 30(2) of the LCA 1973 applies to any other case (ie those occupying as tenants) and the prescribed flat-rate here is now also increased from £7,100 to £7,800.
This is something to factor into any business plans for redevelopment.
Insights from around the firm
- Win for England Women's rugby team: England Women's rugby team score record 14 tries in 84-19 win over Fiji in Auckland. England led at half time before scoring a further 10 tries in second half. This victory extends their winning streak to 26 matches.
- Royal Mail lorry driver leaves gift for dad and son who watch traffic from M6 bridge: A Royal Mail lorry driver who noticed a dad and son that regularly watch and wave at the traffic from an M6 bridge decided to leave a miniature lorry with a note as a gift. Alex Chesters, who has quadriplegic cerebal palsy, and his family were extremely touched by the heart-warming act and have since met up with the lorry driver to thank him.
- Award for founder of drone group responsible for locating missing dogs: The founder of a Facebook group, which has been responsible for locating thousands of missing dogs using a drone, has been awarded a top accolade. Graham Burton will receive the International Fund for Animal Welfare Award after the group has successfully reunited over 2,750 dogs with their owners.