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Legal changes

The Government proposes to extend the limitation period

This means that property owners will have the right to pursue claims against those responsible for defective premises.

On 4 July 2021, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced on the Andrew Marr show that the Government plans to increase the limitation period for actions by homeowners for “shoddy workmanship” from six years to fifteen years retrospectively.

On 5 July 2021, the Government published the amended Building Safety Bill 2021, in advance of its first reading. At section 126(1) [pages 132-133], the Bill would insert s.4B into the Limitation Act 1980 for a “Special time limit for certain actions in respect of damage or defects in relation to buildings”. The effect of the amendment would be to extend the limitation period to 15 years for those with causes of action under sections 1 and s.2A of the Defective Premises 1972, and section 38 of the Building Act 1984, although it should be noted that s.38 of the Building Act 1984 is not yet in force and the Secretary of State has not given any indication as to whether this will be brought into force.

Mr Jenrick was clear that he intends the Bill to have retrospective effect, although it remains to be seen whether this will reinstate causes of action which have already expired. The Government’s advice sheet, suggests that the Bill will do so – “properties built up to 15 years prior to this change coming into effect will be able to bring a claim for compensation for defective work”.

Section 146 [pages 146-147] provides at sub-section (3) that section 126 (among other provisions) will come into force two months after the Act is passed. It has been suggested that the Act will receive Royal Assent before the end of the year, but as a number of the provisions in the draft Bill have been challenged by backbench and opposition MPs, this could be delayed.

If you need further guidance, please contact one of our built environment solicitors.