The Fire Safety Bill ("FSB"), which amends elements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 ("RRO") to clarify the application of the RRO, and assist in the enforcement of the RRO, has passed its final reading in the House of Commons and is now set to become law. In summary the FSB confirms that the RRO:
- applies to buildings containing multiple domestic dwellings; and
- covers the building's structure, external walls and common parts (including doors etc.).
However, amendments to the FSB proposed by the House of Lords, which were intended to prevent the owner of a building passing the costs of fire safety remedial work required to comply with the RRO on to leaseholders or tenants of that building, were again defeated by the Government. As such, leaseholders of properties with fire safety defects remain at risk of being forced to pay for the necessary remedial works.
Given the potentially ruinous cost of such fire safety remedial works to individual leaseholders, the Government's rejection of the House of Lords amendment has proved extremely controversial, prompting the rebellion of 32 Conservative MPs who voted against the Government, and is at odds the Government's previous pledge that “No leaseholder should have to pay for the unaffordable costs of fixing safety defects that they didn’t cause and are no fault of their own”.
The Government's rejection of the proposed amendment has been widely condemned. It is therefore anticipated that this issue will be revisited in due course when the draft Building Safety Bill ("BSB") is introduced to Parliament and that amendments will be sought to the BSB again seeking to prohibit the transfer of the cost of fire safety remedial works to leaseholders.