The Building Safety Act 2022 has introduced new powers in relation to building remediation which came into force on 28 June 2022. These powers can be used to require landlords, developers and their associated entities to contribute to the remediation of building safety defects.
In the first signal that these powers are to be actively used, the “Recovery Strategy Unit” in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has stated it is taking legal action against Grey GR Limited Partnership, the freeholder of Vista Tower, a 15 storey tower block in Stevenage.
The Secretary of State has issued a press release indicating that it is considering issuing an application for a Remediation Contribution Order (which allows the corporate veil to be pierced pursuant to Section 124 of the Building Safety Act) against other entities associated with Grey GR and their parent Rain Pen, requiring them to contribute financially to the remediation costs.
The press release indicates that Grey GR had applied to the Building Safety Fund in 2020 but has not concluded the funding agreement. The government has also noted that there are 23 other funding applications where the agreements for funding have not been concluded.
Many lawyers consider that the terms of the funding agreement are not without their own issues (such as onerous administrative requirements and a wide range of circumstances where the funding can be withdrawn). However, politically, it would seem unlikely that the funding would be withdrawn once a funding agreement is in place and the government are signalling clearly that any outstanding funding agreements should be concluded.
It should be noted that in addition to the Secretary of State, there are a range of other parties that can apply for Remediation Orders or Remediation Contribution Orders under the Building Safety Act (including the Building Safety Regulator, a Local Authority, the Fire & Rescue authorities, a person with a legal or equitable interest in the “relevant building” plus anyone else who may be prescribed in regulations).