Draft Building Safety Bill: What could this mean for limitation periods?
The Grenfell fire of 2017 has spurred the Government to introduce new fire legislation which will, amongst other things, extend the limitation period for defective building claims from six years to 15.
Following the devastating Grenfell fire in 2017, the Government has sought to address building and fire safety by introducing new legislation. The draft Building Safety Bill (published on 5 July 2021) is a further attempt to introduce safer building standards and reforms the way that residential buildings are constructed and maintained.
One interesting proposal (and the focus of this article) is the plan to extend the limitation period for defective building claims from six years to 15 years.
What is limitation?
The limitation period is the time in which civil proceedings must be started and, if missed, the claim may be struck out on the basis that it is ‘time barred’. Therefore, it is vital that civil proceedings are commenced in good time and within the relevant limitation period (which varies depending on the nature of the claim).
The current law
Whilst builders have a duty to build homes properly and to ensure that they are fit for habitation unfortunately this is often not the case. Currently, in circumstances where a newly built property is defective, a homeowner has six years from the date the property was built to bring a claim against the builder to recover damages.
The issue faced by many homeowners is that the limitation period is simply not long enough. Often, defects are not identified until after the six-year time limit has passed leaving homeowners facing significant expenses to repair their properties with no legal redress. The draft Building Safety Bill seeks to give purchasers of new build properties more protection and more time to bring a claim for defective works by extending the limitation period to 15 years. If enacted, the draft Building Safety Bill will have retrospective and prospective effects thereby resurrecting potential claims that had previously expired.
The draft Building Safety Bill will also give a potential claimant the right to bring a claim for any breach of the building regulations and for any defective refurbishment works.
As the Building Safety Bill is still in its draft form we do not know when (or if) it will become law and so potential claimants should act promptly in seeking advice and pursuing claims for defective building works.
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