Property developers warned to act on cladding issues before time runs out

Expert property lawyers are advising developers to act on cladding issues now to avoid the risk of paying out millions of pounds.

Dangerous, combustible cladding has been top of the agenda for developers since the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, which claimed the lives of 72 people. The use of cladding is widespread in high rise apartment blocks and a huge push is now taking place to ensure it is replaced with safe materials.

Experts from national law firm Clarke Willmott LLP say dealing with these issues now will give residents much needed peace of mind and save developers money in the long run.

James Driver, a partner and specialist in construction and engineering disputes, said: “There are so many issues to consider when it comes to cladding both on the resident side and the developer side.
We are acting for a lot of concerned developers and freeholders in pursuing claims against contractors on sites where it is now clear the cladding systems are defective and potentially dangerous.

“Developers should check their building contracts and any collateral warranties on their developments immediately. We are finding that some claims might be close to being ‘time barred’ given the length of time which has passed since the projects were completed, meaning time really is of the essence.

“It really is extremely important to look at this now. It could save developers from paying millions of pounds for what are likely to be significant remedial works.”

James is also acting for some residents living in apartment blocks affected by dangerous cladding.

He said: “There are thousands of worried residents in apartments up and down the country who not only don’t feel safe in their homes, they also can’t sell their property until the cladding has been checked and either deemed safe or replaced.

“These residents are looking at significant, individual contributions to replace the cladding on their blocks, perhaps around £50,000 or more each.

“Those residents who are affected by this will probably already have been made aware of the issue either when they were unable to sell their apartment or else when their freeholder or managing agent told them. If they haven’t already formed a residents’ group to discuss this then that would be a useful first step.

“Bringing a class action is something we have a lot of experience in at Clarke Willmott and we are always open to an initial discussion with a residents’ group to see if we can help.”

Clarke Willmott is a national law firm with offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton.

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