Since the government enacted the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA), there have been many changes which may impact you as a seller or a buyer of any high-rise flats. The changes are only relevant to blocks which are over 5 storeys or 11 metres in height. The key date is 14th February 2022. For the act to be relevant, the owner on that date must have:-

  1. Been residing at the property as their main home
  2. Owned no more than 3 residential properties in the UK

If you did not own the property on that date then the protections do transfer to you automatically.

If the above applies you are entitled to the protection under the act and are called a qualifying leaseholder.

What does it all mean?

It means that landlords are now liable to cover the costs to fix historical fire safety defects. To be liable they must be:-

  1. The original developer or linked to
  2. Meet a certain wealth threshold

If they do not meet the tests, you are still offered protection with a cap to the costs they can pass onto you for historical fire safety defects.

For defects relating to cladding if you are a qualifying leaseholder it is illegal for owners to pass on the costs so you should not have to pay towards these defects.

The BSA is retrospective so applies to any bills regardless of when they were issued.

What if I am selling?

You are able to confirm your new rights by completing the government’s online form. You should not pay any costs before the landlord provides a formal legal certificate that they are financially transparent or the works do not come under the BSA.

A new Leasehold Information Form has been released which includes new questions for you as a seller to complete. These are:-

  1. a new section on building safety to assist transactions impacted by the Building Safety Act 2022 including questions about remediation works; whether the lease is a qualifying lease; the Leaseholder Deed of Certificate and the Landlord’s Certificate.
  2. a question asking if the seller knows about defects that create a building safety risk.
  3. new questions about the ownership and management of the building.
  4. fields to capture details of the seller if they are a company.
  5. updated definitions and other process improvements.

The Management pack your landlord provides will also include relevant questions from the BSA.

What if I am buying?

These changes are to hopefully improve the access for buyers to mortgage finance. Lenders are updating their requirements to solicitors to incorporate the changes in the law.

Your Conveyancer will have to ensure that the landlord provides all information required under the BSA. They will also need to evidence this according to the criteria of your lender.

Key Questions to ask if you are buying or selling?

  1. Is the property equal to or above 11m high or 5 stories high? If so:
  2. Has the Landlord been notified of this sale?
  3. Has a Leaseholder Deed of Certificate been served on the Landlord in relation to the property or remedial works required for the property?
  4. Has a Landlord’s Certificate been served?

If you are a landlord, tenant or management company and need advice about this, contact our property law team.

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