In 2022, the Building Safety Act (BSA) was introduced, revolutionising the rights of leaseholders living in buildings affected by fire safety concerns stemming from design and construction flaws. This ground-breaking legislation ushers in a new era of accountability and empowerment for homeowners. One of the most significant provisions within the BSA is the Remediation Order, which empowers the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) to compel freeholders to rectify building safety defects.

While this often involves addressing issues like ACM cladding, it also extends to problematic balconies and other fire hazards. This article explores the implications and intricacies of these Remediation Orders.

The First Known Exercise of the Remediation Order

The FTT has exercised its authority under the Remediation Order for the first time, setting a precedent for future cases. In this particular instance, the FTT mandated the freeholder of 2 – 4 Leigham Court, a 35-flat building, to undertake several crucial actions:

  • Remove and replace ACM cladding
  • Remove and replace defective insulation
  • Remediate the fire stopping compartmentation, cavity barriers, and fire stopping mechanism

Shifting the Burden of Proof

Notably, the FTT ruled that the leaseholders were not burdened with proving which steps needed to be taken to remedy the defects. Instead, they chose to rely on professional reports and their own expertise during site visits to determine if on the face of it there were relevant defects.

This approach acknowledges the complex technical nature of these issues, sparing leaseholders from the daunting task of specifying the required works. Furthermore, the FTT displayed flexibility in managing the dispute as new information arose.

Understanding the Requirements of a Remediation Order

The Remediation Order itself is surprisingly straightforward. The freeholder is obliged to rectify the identified defects, without the FTT providing explicit guidance on how to do so or instituting continuous monitoring. The FTT’s confidence in this approach rests on the requirement that any works performed must comply with the Building Regulations at the time of execution and maintain a standard high enough that an External Wall System 1 (EWS1) Certificate would not be denied.

Examining the Costs of Pursuing a Remediation Order

In a rather familiar scenario, the FTT adhered to established cost rules, determining that the freeholder had not acted unreasonably throughout the proceedings. Consequently, the leaseholders were responsible for covering their legal expenses, despite their success in obtaining the Remediation Order.

Closing Thoughts

The Building Safety Act 2022 has ushered in a transformative period for building safety and the rights of leaseholders. It provides a much-needed mechanism for addressing defects and hazards in a systematic manner, emphasising accountability and safety in our living spaces.

Given the dynamic nature of this field, individuals impacted by construction issues that could fall under the purview of the Building Safety Act 2022 are encouraged to seek legal advice and explore the range of available remedies. The journey toward safer and more secure homes is well underway.

Ricky Coleman
- Post author

Ricky Coleman

Ricky has been advising on landlord and tenant issues for nine years, and now heads up the Landlord and Tenant team at Bate & Albon Solicitors.  He has been advised on numerous complex, high value and technical leasehold disputes for properties in Brighton and London.