The government’s building safety measures announced this month do not go far enough as they only relate to cladding and not to other unsafe materials or products, according to a law firm.
Simon Lewis, a partner at Womble Bond Dickinson, said although the government’s announcements on support measures for affected buildings were welcome, “there are a significant number of buildings which face fire safety problems not directly related to the cladding employed on the Grenfell Tower and which are unsafe in ways often not related to cladding at all”.
Lewis also said it “remains debatable whether the loan scheme in itself provides anything more than a temporary solution, which will be unsatisfactory to many given that it will not alleviate the significant financial difficulties in which many tenants now find themselves”.
He added: “It seems inevitable that the levy on developers and the new tax will result in increased development costs, which are likely to be passed down the line to purchasers, tenants and leaseholders. The Grenfell Tower tragedy has uncovered a lamentable situation in relation to both construction products and the practices used in constructing multi-occupancy buildings of this nature."
He acknowledged that the recent announcement of a construction products regulator “whilst reflecting concerns in the industry which go back many years, is another step in the right direction”.
Lewis warned that "with the building and fire safety reforms already well under way, and the amount of regulation for the industry set to increase, costs will continue to rise over the coming years".
This will mean that “as developers seek to recover costs from construction companies, landlords from developers and tenants from landlords, disputes in the sector could span years, especially where tenants do not have access to the original developers or builders”.
The government announced a £5 billion investment in building safety earlier this month to fully fund the cost of replacing unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in residential buildings 18 metres (six storeys) and over in England.