Government gets tough with developers

In the week before the Lords meet to consider the Building Safety Bill during its Grand Committee stage, the government has tabled amendments that could see major new commercial consequences for developers who do not contribute to the cost of fixing fire safety defects.

Michael Gove continues to talk to industry about how to find £4bn to cover the costs of remediation for leaseholders living in flats below 18 metres. In a press release issued this week, the government said that for those unwilling to make commitments to fund remediation, tougher measures would be put in place.

These measures include blocking planning permission and building control sign-off on developments, “effectively preventing them from building and selling new homes.”

The building safety levy will also be used to widen the scope to capture more developments as well as introducing higher rates.

Amendments tabled by the government also include the introduction of cost contribution orders that would see manufacturers prosecuted under construction products regulations required to pay to fix fire safety problems caused by defective products.

The Housing Secretary re-stated his commitment that no leaseholder in a building higher than 11 metres would have to pay to have cladding removed and confirmed that non-cladding related costs would also be addressed.

“Under the plans, developers that still own a building over 11m that they built or refurbished – or landlords linked to an original developer – will be required to pay in full to fix historic building safety issues in their property.”

And if the developer cannot be found or cannot pay, leaseholder costs will be capped at £10,000 or £15,000 for homes in London – this will apply retrospectively and capture any costs already incurred.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove said:

“It is time to bring this scandal to an end, protect leaseholders and see the industry work together to deliver a solution. These measures will stop building owners passing all costs on to leaseholders and make sure any repairs are proportionate and necessary for their safety.

“All industry must play a part, instead of continuing to profit whilst hardworking families struggle.

“We cannot allow those who do not take building safety seriously to build homes in the future, and for those not willing to play their part they must face consequences. We will take action to keep homes safe and to protect existing leaseholders from paying the price for bad development.”

The Lords will next meet to discuss the Building Safety Bill on Monday 21 February.

A full list of amendments can be found here.