Expert responds to speculation
The Building Safety Act 2022 is meant to showcase the government’s commitment to reforming the building safety system.
However, brokers have stated that due to stringent building regulations on cladding, a number of solicitors and conveyancers are refusing to work on cases where the building is above five storeys, or 11 metres, high.
Beth Rudolf (pictured), director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association (CA), said to her mind, this is an issue that goes beyond high-rise buildings and is exacerbated by Part 1 of the UK Finance handbook.
Rudolf said under the guidance of UK Finance, where the security will comprise a leasehold flat you must request the following information from the seller’s conveyancer about the safety of the building in which the flat is situated:
- Confirmation as to whether the building has been or will be remediated under the Building Safety Act 2022.
- Copies of any landlords’ certificates, signed by the landlord in the form set out in the building safety leaseholder protections regulations 2022.
- Copies of any executed leaseholder deed of certificate, in the form set out in the building safety leaseholder protections regulations 2022, and confirmation that they have been submitted by the relevant leaseholder to the landlord.
She added that the handbook also states you may want to consider any guidance from your professional body and/or regulator about the information and advice you should provide to the home-buyer relating to building safety. The guidance, Rudolf believes, needs to be clear that, if the flat is in a relevant building, the Building Safety Act 2022 applies.
“We at the CA, and the Conveyancing Task Force, have been asking UK Finance to update this since last year, but as of yet, that has not been done,” Rudolf said.
For most firms, Rudolf said the mid-rise and above position is too much work for them to take on, as they are uncomfortable charging the additional costs to do so.
“Plus DLUHC is updating its guidance as the loopholes are discovered, for example, the update on surrender and regrant recently, which will require updated legislation,” she added.
For this reason, Rudolf said there appears to be only a few conveyancing firms willing to take on mid/high-rise leasehold conveyancing.
The few conveyancing firms who are willing to take on these cases, Rudolf said, are choosing to specialise in this area to set themselves apart from competitors.
Rudolf said it is essential that brokers check with their local connections as to which conveyancers are comfortable taking on mid/high-rise leasehold conveyancing.
“While there are some conveyancers setting up as specialists on the legislation now, as the legislation beds in and the insurers become more comfortable, others will start acting on these cases,” she said.
Mortgage advisers, Rudolf said, should remind their customers they will need to check their conveyancer is prepared to work on leasehold cases which include mid/high-rise property before instructing them.
“Otherwise, it can cause huge delay and frustration to them and the rest of the chain of transactions when they have to instruct another conveyancer and start the process all over again,” she added.
Do you believe the UK Finance handbook on building safety needs to provide further clarity? Let us know in the comment section below.