Building Safety: Govt takes first step in legal action against freeholder

The Department for Levelling up has taken the first step in legal action against Grey GR Limited Partnership, a freeholder of a fifteen-storey tower block in Stevenage, which has been given 21 days to commit to remediating the tower’s fire safety defects before an application will be made to the courts.

The freeholder is one of the first to face action by the newly created Recovery Strategy Unit, set up to identify and pursue firms found not to be fixing buildings.

Levelling Up Secretary of State, Simon Clarke said: “The lives of over 100 people living in Vista Tower have been put on hold for over two years whilst they wait for Grey GR to remediate unsafe cladding. Enough is enough.

“This legal action should act as a warning to the rest of industry’s outliers – big and small. Step up, follow your peers and make safe the buildings you own or legal action will be taken against you.”

Sophie Bichener, a leaseholder in Vista Tower said: “This action is a step in the right direction for the innocent leaseholders still desperately pleading with their building owners to take responsibility.

“Now the leaseholder protections are in force – it should serve as a warning to those entities still playing games and doing all they can to dodge their legal obligations.”

Leaseholders had been handed bills and have been unable to sell, despite unsafe cladding being identified on the building over two years ago. Whilst the building registered with the Building Safety Fund in 2020, the funding agreement is yet to be signed, meaning the government cannot release any funds.

There are at least 23 other buildings registered with the Building Safety Fund that have been unable to progress due to unnecessary delays.

The Secretary of State will also consider issuing an application for a Remediation Contribution Order against other entities associated with Grey GR including Railways Pension Trustee Company and Railtrust Holdings, requiring them to financially contribute to the remediation costs.

Leaseholders in the UK are now able to apply for a remedial order if the owner of their building is failing in their responsibilities.

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