Diary of a high street conveyancer: 3rd April 2023

You will recall that at the end of last year Michael Gove stated that he was intending to help those home owners who were trapped by the cladding scandal. Fast forward and we have the Building Safety Act 2022 which seeks to allocate responsibility for dealing with remedial works to make buildings safe.

The Act regulates the costs that a landlord can recoup from the tenants in relation to the remediation works which are needed. Mr Gove threatened major house builders with a nationwide ban if they failed to sign a building safety contract. This contract was promoted as a way of protecting thousands of leaseholders .

This all sounds good but fast forward to now and there is still a great level of uncertainty as to what us conveyancers should be doing. Greater academic minds than mine are tasked with unravelling and explaining what this means but just from reading about this, I made the decision that my firm would not be acting in such matters.

On a basic level how can we be sure how many properties our client owned on the 14th February 2022 (and is this a significant date for Mr. Gove as it does appear to be an odd date to choose!?) and how can we be sure how tall a building is? And those are the easy questions! There are far more complex issues to consider and as we have seen, the lenders are taking different approaches.

This is having a significant impact on the market and it may not be your client that is selling or buying a flat which could be impacted but another in the chain which then affects the rest of the chain.

I know that I am not alone in deciding not to act in such matters . A Today’s Conveyancer poll has revealed at over half of firms asked said that they were not acting in such transactions. Think about your firm’s PI cover; how we do not really understand the legislation (who does!?), how we are not sure about the limitations (think about the issue with extending leases) and how comfortable you feel about acting.

Leasehold is a minefield at the best of times, but this is just making it harder.


This is written by a real high street conveyancer who wishes to remain anonymous. Read more in Today’s Conveyancer every week.

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