Out-Law News

Cladding Remediation Bill introduces new rules to Scotland’s real estate sector

The recently passed Housing (Cladding Remediation) Scotland Bill goes some of the way towards bringing Scotland into line with safety developments elsewhere in the UK, an expert has said.

The Bill (30 pages / 1.8 MB) was passed in the Scottish parliament without any opposition on 14 May and will have potentially “significant consequences” for Scotland’s real estate industry. 

The legislation will address concerns related to external wall cladding systems in buildings, working to enhance building safety and confidence among various stakeholders in the real estate sector. 

An important part of the Bill is the creation of a publicly accessible cladding assurance register. This register records whether or not a building requires work to eliminate or mitigate risks associated with its external wall cladding system. 

The Bill also grants the Scottish government the authority to arrange single-building assessments and remediation work as well as the power to evacuate occupants if they are at risk. Failure to comply risks a fine of up to £5,000, up to three months imprisonment, or both. 

Katherine Metcalfe building safety expert at Pinsent Masons, said: “The powers which the Scottish government now has to step in and remediate buildings are extensive. Nevertheless, they are likely to be used as a last resort because exercising those powers will incur significant costs and it is unlikely to be attractive for government to incur those costs unless the building safety risk is high or the prospects of recovering the costs are good.”

Owners of buildings have the right to appeal against remedial work notices within 21 days. If an appeal is not resolved within this 3-week period, it will be dismissed. 

A responsible developers scheme will also be established by the Bill, allowing engagement with developers connected to buildings with problematic cladding. The scheme will include agreements for developers to bear remediations, with developers not participating in the scheme facing possible future restrictions, building warrant or completion certificate requirements. 

“The passing of the Scottish bill is consistent, to an extent, with action taken elsewhere in the UK, including the Building Safety Act 2022 applicable in England and a bill being brought forward in Northern Ireland to address defective premises.  However, unlike in England and Northern Ireland, the Scottish legislation will not affect the time within which claims relating to building safety concerns must be made,” said Neal Anderson, infrastructure dispute resolution expert at Pinsent Masons. 

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