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Who pays for fire safety remedies in residential blocks?

In what is considered the initial contested instance involving a remediation order under the Building Safety Act, residents in two residential blocks situated in Streatham, southwest London, successfully pursued the replacement of hazardous external cladding and the correction of other flaws at the expense of their landlord.

The building at 2-4 Leigham Court Road underwent conversion from an office development in 2005, with the addition of two storeys, resulting in a six-storey structure. Meanwhile, the other is a seven-storey newly constructed building separated from the existing block by a party wall.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, concerns arose regarding the aluminum cladding on the top two storeys of each block and the firestopping of internal compartments.

A June 2001 inspection report highlighted the following issues:

  • Limited horizontal and an absence of vertical cavity barriers

  • Compliance issues with the insulation, which was non-compliant at the time of the inspection

  • Lack of firestopping around vents within cavities

  • Use of non-fire-rated vents

  • Incorporation of combustible materials in the external wall system

In the Waite & others v Kedai Ltd case, the tribunal issued a remediation order, stipulating a deadline of September 2025 for the completion of the work. Notably, the tribunal asserted that although the Building Safety Act did not specify the standard for remediation work, it should adhere to the building regulations at the time of remediation, ensuring, at the very least, the issuance of a satisfactory EWS1 form.

Interestingly, a new building survey conducted during the case's preparation revealed that the buildings exceeded 18m in height, contrary to previous measurements indicating compliance. This discovery allows the freeholder to apply for funding from the Government’s Building Safety Fund.

Unopposed Tribunal Case

In a previous case, a collective of 18 leaseholders secured nearly £195,000 from the developer/freeholder of their building for the replacement of balconies with combustible materials.

Although the case, adjudicated in January 2023, ultimately faced no opposition from the developer, Inspired Sutton Ltd, the tribunal determined that the leaseholders were eligible to receive a remediation contribution order under section 124 of the Building Safety Act.

While these instances mark the first successful remediation orders issued under the Building Safety Act, several claims for remediation are currently awaiting resolution.

One such case, as reported by the Financial Times, pertains to the former Olympic Park in East London. Triathlon Homes has submitted an application for a remediation contribution order under the Building Safety Act, compelling the site's freeholder, Get Living, to take responsibility for approximately £16 million worth of necessary work on the homes managed by Triathlon.

Reported defects, including missing fire breaks and the presence of ACM cladding, have been identified in these properties.

Triathlon argues against bearing the remediation costs, asserting that it leases the properties from Get Living. Meanwhile, Get Living, which has earmarked £14.3 million for fire safety remediation at East Village properties it doesn't own, contends that Triathlon is unwilling to contribute its share of the expenses.

Additionally, Get Living, as the majority shareholder in EVML, the management company overseeing common areas of the estate, including fire safety, has sought £13.5 million from the government’s Building Safety Fund to cover a substantial portion of the remediation expenses for Triathlon-managed properties.

Enforcement under Housing Act 2004 In a connected legal matter, Newham Council has effectively taken legal action against the proprietor of a nine-story structure in Forest Gate, also located in East London. Chaplair Ltd faced prosecution by the council under the Housing Act 2004 due to its failure to remove cladding from the Lumiere building, as stipulated in an improvement notice served in September 2020. Although the removal of the hazardous cladding eventually commenced in May 2021 and concluded by February 2022, the council convincingly argued in the City of London Magistrates Court that there existed no justifiable reason for the delay. As additional cases surface and make their way to the tribunal, a more defined understanding will emerge regarding who ultimately bears the responsibility for addressing substantial fire safety deficiencies in residential blocks and to what extent leaseholders are safeguarded from incurring those expenses.


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