Second staircase timescale for implementation
The Government confirmed in July that new guidance would be introduced requiring second staircases in residential buildings above 18m in height. We now have more of an idea as to the timing of the new provisions with the announcement from Michael Gove in late October that developers will have 30 months from the date that the changes to Approved Document B are formally published during which new building regulations applications can conform to either the guidance as it stands today or to the new guidance requiring a second staircase. After the 30 months all applications must adhere to the new guidance and a second staircase will be required.
If an application is made within the 30 months that does not follow the new guidance the developer will have 18 months for construction to get underway in earnest (i.e. the pouring of concrete for either the permanent placement of trench, pad or raft foundations or for the permanent placement of piling). If it does not, they will have to resubmit under the new guidance.
Accordingly, if a project has already obtained planning permission with one staircase it has some time to get construction underway and the development will not need to immediately be redesigned and resubmitted.
Qualifying leasehold loophole addressed
A significant loophole in the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA) that had the potential to adversely impact on leaseholders has now been addressed giving certainty to both landlords and leaseholders when renewing a qualifying lease.
To benefit from the BSA leaseholder protection provisions available to leaseholders in high rise blocks, the tenant must hold a 'qualifying lease' granted before 14 February 2022. As originally drafted, the qualifying lease status would be lost if the lease was extended after this date as the extension of the lease effects a surrender of the original lease and the grant of the new extended lease. This has now been addressed by new provisions added to the BSA at the end of October which provide that a 'connected replacement lease' (that is a new lease replacing another that was a qualifying lease) will be a qualifying lease where all other criteria are satisfied. The new provisions will take effect retrospectively and will therefore apply to extended leases granted during the period since the leaseholder provisions came into force.
Registration of high-rise buildings
The provisions of the BSA requiring the mandatory registration of all residential buildings that are over 18 metres high or have more than 7 floors came into force on 30 September 2023. New buildings completed after 1 October 2023 must have a relevant completion certificate or final notice and must be registered before residents can occupy them. The register is not yet open for public view and evidence of registration must therefore be requested as part of the due diligence exercise where dealing with a property.
Want to know more?
In our Autumn/Winter edition of Property Insights our team of experts shine a spotlight on new legal developments and offer some insights on issues that are currently shaping the property market. In this edition we look at what the King’s speech outlined in the areas of enfranchisement and residential development, new legislation aimed at ‘levelling up’ and ‘breathing new life into business and the regions across the UK’, the current state of play with Energy Performance Certificates (EPC), how the Autumn statement brought support for entrepreneurs, updates on the Building Safety Act and finally, the factors that are propelling the surge in private debt within the UK’s real estate sector. Access the bulletin here.