Third Floor, 18–20 The Ropewalk, Nottingham, NG1 5DT

Changes to Major Works program – further consultation needed?

Reedbase Ltd and another v Fattal
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This case provided handy guidance for all parties involved in Major Works, as small variances do very often occur as works commence. Notably, due to the very nature of major works projects – they regularly take place over an extended period of time thus increasing the chances of small changes to the program and changes to materials being used.

The works in question concerned the replacement of roof tiles to the roof terraces of penthouse apartments. The consultation was completed, and the works started.

The method in which the tiles were laid was changed during the ongoing works. The estimates within the initial consultation did not refer to the new method. The tenants claimed that there had therefore not been proper consultation on the works and subsequently their contribution to the works should be limited.

During the appeal, it was clarified that there is not any set guidance on when a change would invalidate a stage in the consultation so much so that the consultation would need to be repeated. The court stated that it had considered whether the “protection to be afforded to the Tenants by the consultation process was likely to be materially assisted by obtaining fresh estimates.”

In this case, it was found that the cost of variations was comparatively minimal and the leaseholders were fully aware of the situation, and therefore a repeat consultation was NOT required. Besides that, the extra time of re-tendering might prejudice other Tenants.

Grenfell style cladding costs

The legal repercussions have started in the wake of the horrendous tragedy. In particular, concerning all other buildings within the UK that are subject to having cladding removed and/or replaced. The area of intense debate is who is responsible for the costs of the works?

Under strict interpretation of lease terms – many leaseholders are being found to responsible for the costs (payable through their service charges).  A post-Grenfell case of First Port v Citiscape lessees demonstrated this.

However, there is an active element of morality involved in these cases, and many building owners and/or developers are facing mounting pressure to step in to meet the cost (regardless of what the lease says). In fact, Taylor Wimpey has set aside £30 million to pay for the removal of unsafe cladding installed on its developments.

Also, there have been calls on the Government to get the works done regardless and then sort out who is responsible at a later date. Funding to have these works undertaken have been announced by the Government along with a ban on the use of Grenfell style cladding for new buildings.