Warning to building owners failing on safety

March 12, 2024

Warning to building owners failing on safety

Source: HSE

Last week, the Minister for Housing and Building Safety, Lee Rowley, convened a round table of council chief executives to discuss the action they are taking against building owners who are failing to fix medium and high-rise buildings with known building safety issues in their area.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has provided over £8 million in funding to councils to boost enforcement teams. The Minister pressed councils to explain how this funding is being used to force rogue building owners to act.

The meeting followed successful legal action the government, leaseholders and councils have taken in recent months against building owners to make sure vital safety work is carried out. The Minister stressed the vital role of councils in making sure building owners fix their unsafe buildings.

Minister for Building Safety Lee Rowley said: “Councils and fire and rescue services play a crucial role in making sure dangerous buildings get fixed when building owners are stalling. Lots of councils are already doing great work in this area but all councils need to take the appropriate action to protect residents and make sure those responsible for making homes safe do so without any further delay.

“The warning to owners refusing fix their buildings is clear: get on with remediation or action will be taken against you.”

Government legal action has forced Grey GR, a subsidiary of RailPen – an organisation that has failed to remediate a substantial number of buildings – to fix building safety issues at Galbraith House in Birmingham within three weeks, despite having known about the building safety defects for six years. The government is taking enforcement action covering six further Grey GR buildings with trials set to take place this year.

In addition to Grey GR, Wallace Estates, which has consistently failed to fix building safety defects, has now accepted remediation orders brought by the government covering four buildings. This provides much-needed certainty for approximately 400 leaseholders by committing the company to dates for the completion of work.

This January the First-tier Tribunal issued a remediation order against Wallace Estates, following an application by leaseholders in Croydon. Wallace Estates were ordered to fix their unsafe building by May 2025, and were criticised for not acting fast enough to remediate defects they knew were present. In all five orders issued under the Building Safety Act to date, the First-tier Tribunal has ordered building owners to get on with fixing, or paying to fix, their unsafe buildings.

At last week’s meeting, council leaders discussed action they are taking using legal powers, including hearing from representatives from Newham Council who have prosecuted a building owner for delays in removing dangerous cladding – a significant step forward in the fight to protect residents from unsafe cladding.

Where remediation is not progressing, building owners are warned to expect to face robust enforcement action from regulators – including councils – with the full support of government behind them. This commitment is underlined in the government’s joint statement with building safety bodies on enforcing the remediation of fire safety defects.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
February 2024

Our Comment

This meeting again illustrates the importance of addressing fire safety defects in blocks of flats. It is imperative for the protection of life, property, and legal compliance and ensures the well-being of residents, safeguards against financial losses, and contributes to the overall safety and resilience of those residing in high rise buildings.

Warning to Building Owners

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