The Grenfell Tower fire exposed significant failings in the property and construction industries and how they have been regulated. A public inquiry into the disaster is ongoing, but it is apparent there have been serious issues at every level. It is now thought that the "Cladding Scandal" affects some 4 million people nationwide and that only a small fraction of the affected buildings have been completely remediated to date, some four years later. A recent fire at a residential block of flats in London, which spread quickly and without warning, served as a stark reminder that the crisis is far from over.
What to do if you are affected
It is vital that flat owners act together and with their landlord and/or freeholder, wherever possible, to seek to safeguard their position as to the following:-
- Establishing whether the building is safe and, in particular, whether the cost of interim measures and remedial works being proposed really need to be incurred;
- Ensuring that an application for a grant from the Building Safety Fund is made by the deadline of 30 June 2021, if appropriate;
- Issuing Court Proceedings against, or entering into a Standstill Agreement with any potentially responsible developer, builder, architect, engineer or any other professional advisor within the requisite time period (usually 6 years from the time of completion of the building or sale of the flat);
- Making a claim under any NHBC or other warranty issued in relation to their flat within the usual 10 year period for structural defects from its issue.
We recommend that flat owners work together through Participation Agreements so that costs can be shared. There is clearly strength in numbers and an advantage in working collectively.
How Forsters can assist
Our experience allows us to provide tailored, pragmatic and commercially focused advice and solutions to enable our clients to achieve their objectives, including the procurement of any necessary remedial works and the recovery of losses from those responsible for designing and constructing the building. Our clients in this sector include private individuals, corporate occupiers, real estate funds, property developers and investors, family offices and international property companies.
It is vital that flat owners act together and with their landlord and/or freeholder, wherever possible, to seek to safeguard their position.