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Can my flat’s developer avoid a cladding repair bill after the firm’s sale?

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Can the developer that built my flat avoid a cladding repair bill now its company has been sold?

  • Claims against a developer depend on age of the building with cladding issues
  • If you bought new you may have a new build warranty that may cover cladding

I live in a block with cladding issues and I’m unable to sell while the repair costs are being discussed.

In the meantime, the developer responsible for building our block of flats has been sold.

Does this mean that that it can no longer be held responsible for the building defects and the repair costs?

Since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, concerns about cladding have become a national issue

Since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, concerns about cladding have become a national issue

MailOnline Property expert Myra Butterworth said: It must be deeply concerning that the developer of your block of flats has been sold, while you are still in this position.

It raises the question as to whether you can still hold it liable for any of the cladding issues.

It is yet another issue for you to be dealing with in your fight to resolve the cladding issues and get the massive cost of repairs covered.

While all these issues are being addressed, you are left with a potentially unsafe flat that you are unable to sell as lenders are unwilling to lend on it.

We have outlined some of potential legal avenues below. It is also worth following up with NHBC and any collateral warranty – if there is any – to help cover the costs.

It is understood that in the past three years, NHBC has accepted 23 major claims on high rise developments that relate to cladding or fire-safety issues, with a total estimated cost of more than £130million.

Liam Spender, of law firm Velitor Law, said: Whether there is any worthwhile claim against the developer depends on the age of the building, whether you bought off-plan and how any sale of the developer is being structured.

If your building was finished less than six years ago, you may have a claim against the developer under the Defective Premises Act 1972.

If you bought your flat off-plan less than six years ago, you may also have a claim for breach of contract against the developer.

If your building is more than six years old, it is unfortunately unlikely that you will be able to pursue any contractual claim or Defective Premises Act claim against the developer due to the strict six-year time limits for making such claims.

A negligence claim is unlikely to be worth pursuing because, as the law currently stands, the costs of replacing cladding are deemed pure economic loss (loss measured only in money) and therefore not recoverable from the developer.

If the claims are within time and assuming the developer is a company, you should still be able to proceed with these claims even with the developer’s change of ownership. The time limits for making a claim will still apply.

Whether the claims are still worth pursuing depends on whether the developer company itself was sold or whether it was only a sale of the assets of the developer.

If it was an asset-only sale, there may be no developer company left, or no assets left, able to pay any successful claim.

If the developer company itself was sold then the new owner may be standing behind that company and it may still be able to pay any successful claim. Any insurance the developer holds may still be a source that could be used to pay a successful claim, regardless of the sale.

Sometimes the building owner obtains something called a collateral warranty from the developer. This may permit the building owner to claim against other parties involved in construction, for example architects and engineers. The sale of the developer should not have any effect on the collateral warranty, subject to there being assets in, or insurance covering, the parties subject to the collateral warranty to be able to pay any successful claim.

If you bought new you may also have the benefit of a new build warranty, which may cover cladding. These warranties typically last 10 years from the date the building was completed. Claims under the warranty should still be available regardless of any change of ownership of the developer. The benefit of this warranty should also pass to any buyer of your flat.

Finally, if your building is more than 18 metres tall, there is some limited Government support available to pay for the costs of removing cladding. The managing agent or owner of the property should have already applied for this funding, if available.

A spokesman for NHBC added: Claims received for properties covered by an NHBC policy are considered on an individual basis under our Buildmark warranty. If a policy holder has anything they wish to discuss, we would be pleased to hear from them.

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The Cotswold house being sold with a 94-year-old tortoise

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This pretty period property in the Cotswolds has an unusual feature that is being included in its sale. 

While new homes may occasionally try to tempt buyers by including additional items for sale, such as furniture or even a car, this Grade II listed property is on the market for £825,000 with a more unusual – and elderly – offering.

It has a 94-year-old resident tortoise that resides in the garden of the four-bedroom detached house in Wiltshire’s Box.

A 94-year-old tortoise is part of the sale of this stunning four-bedroom home in the Cotswolds

A 94-year-old tortoise is part of the sale of this stunning four-bedroom home in the Cotswolds

Resident Hercules is a local village celebrity and is an impressive 94 years old

Resident Hercules is a local village celebrity and is an impressive 94 years old

The property is called the The Old Diary and is bursting with character features. But its most charming feature is arguably Hercules, the tortoise.

After moving into The Old Dairy in 2007 and becoming custodian of the then 80-year-old resident tortoise, the current owner of the property soon discovered that Hercules is folklore in the village of Box and somewhat a creature of habit.

The current owner – of both the property and the tortoise – has lived in the property for the last 14 years and reports that Hercules can be expected to begin hibernating around 20 October, until emerging again on or very close to 20 April the following year in line with the start of warmer days. 

This is a feat they have seen repeated annually with complete accuracy.

When not hibernating, Hercules is a low-maintenance garden resident who enjoys a diet of lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes.

While it’s no secret that Hercules is a local village celebrity, a less well-known fact about this four-legged garden friend is that following a visit to the vet in the 1970s, it was confirmed that Hercules is in fact female.

Beyond the walled-garden where Hercules resides, there is plenty more outdoor space to be enjoyed.

The property is full of character features including wooden beams and an Aga in the kitchen

The property is full of character features including wooden beams and an Aga in the kitchen

The property is for sale via estate agents Hunter French, in Corsham, with a price tag of £825,000

The property is for sale via estate agents Hunter French, in Corsham, with a price tag of £825,000

The inside of the period home spans three floors and includes this living room with a cosy fireplace

The inside of the period home spans three floors and includes this living room with a cosy fireplace

The ground floor of the property also includes this large and bright conservatory that leads to the garden

The ground floor of the property also includes this large and bright conservatory that leads to the garden

To the front of the house, there is a gravel driveway and lawned garden bordered by flowers. 

Also in the garden is an outbuilding that was once use as a double garage, but now offers itself as a space with potential for new owners to explore as it was previously transformed into a charming café.

Inside, the period home spans three floors. To the ground floor, there is a kitchen and breakfast room that can be accessed via the tiled entrance hall and boasts a blue Aga.

The formal dining room has access to the cellar and provides the perfect setting for entertaining, while the sitting room is centred around a cosy open fireplace.

Currently a working-from-home space, the third reception room is the oldest part of the property and completes the ground floor, alongside a utility room, cloakroom, and a conservatory.

As well as the family bathroom, there are three bedrooms on the first floor, while the fourth bedroom on the top floor has an ensuite and living space.

The outdoor space includes a driveway and an outbuilding that was once used as a double garage

The outdoor space includes a driveway and an outbuilding that was once used as a double garage

The character property in Box has four bedrooms including a main suite on the top floor

The character property in Box has four bedrooms including a main suite on the top floor 

The top floor includes additional living space that can be used to accommodate extra guests

The top floor includes additional living space that can be used to accommodate extra guests

Helen Whiteley, of property website OnTheMarket.com, said: ‘It certainly isn’t every day you come across a property for sale with its very own resident tortoise.

‘At the age of 94, Hercules has so far lived through two World Wars as well as the reign of four British monarchs, George V, Edward VIII, George VI, and Elizabeth II.

‘If she could, I’m sure she would be able to tell some of the most amazing tales. As it stands, now both the property and Hercules are seeking their next owner to act as their custodian with each full of character, albeit in rather different ways.’

The current owner - of both the property and the tortoise - has lived in the property for the last 14 years

The current owner – of both the property and the tortoise – has lived in the property for the last 14 years

There is plenty of outdoor space that Hercules uses, including a lawn and flower beds

There is plenty of outdoor space that Hercules uses, including a lawn and flower beds

The outbuilding offers the potential for new owners to explore as it was once a charming café

The outbuilding offers the potential for new owners to explore as it was once a charming café

Lauren Walsh, of estate agents Hunter French, in Corsham, – which is handling the sale – said: ‘The Old Dairy is an incredibly charming home filled with character and would make for a wonderful family home looking to make their next move.

‘While Hercules the tortoise is undeniably one of the most popular characters in the local village, Box itself has a lovely sense of community and offers great places to spend days out with family and friends, whether this be in the great outdoors or at one of the welcoming pubs or restaurants on offer.’

The outbuilding could be used as guest accommodation or as a bed & breakfast option

The outbuilding could be used as guest accommodation or as a bed & breakfast option

The inside of the outbuilding could be transformed to help produce an additional income

The inside of the outbuilding could be transformed to help produce an additional income

The village of Box is on the southern slope of the ByBrook valley and in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,

Many of its buildings are made from the natural Box stone which has been quarried in the surrounding area since at least the 8th Century.

The average price of a property in Box is almost double the £329,735 national average at £601,284, according to property website Zoopla.

Peter Gabriel established his state of the art ‘Real World Studios’ in Box and this has helped to attract people from the entertainment industry to settle in the village.

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Ireland’s data commissioner loses sole regulatory oversight of Facebook in Europe

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Europe’s top court on Tuesday endorsed the power of national data watchdogs to pursue big tech firms even if they are not their lead regulators, in a setback for Silicon Valley companies such as

Facebook. The EU Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling could encourage national agencies to act against US tech companies such as Google, Twitter and Apple, which all have their European Union headquarters in Ireland.

Many national watchdogs in the 27-member European Union have long complained about their Irish counterpart, saying that it takes too long to decide on cases.

Ireland has dismissed this, saying it has to be extra meticulous in dealing with powerful and well-funded tech giants. The ECJ got involved after a Belgian court sought guidance on

Facebook’s challenge against the territorial competence of the Belgian data watchdog’s bid to stop it from tracking users in Belgium through cookies stored in the company’s social plug-ins, regardless of whether they have an account or not.

“Under certain conditions, a national supervisory authority may exercise its power to bring any alleged infringement of the GDPR before a court of a member state, even though that authority is not the lead supervisory authority with regard to that processing,” the ECJ said.

Under landmark EU privacy rules known as GDPR, Facebook faces oversight by the Irish privacy authority because it has its European head office in Ireland. – Reuters

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Evo Industrial acquires London warehouse (GB)

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Bradda Capital has sold a prime last-mile logistics site in southeast London to Evo Industrial for over €9.3m (£8m). The 3.4-acre site, One Church Manorway, is located in an established industrial area in Erith and has significant development potential. In September 2020, Bradda obtained planning consent to demolish the current 37,662ft² warehouse and to construct a new 60,687ft² facility with a BREEAM sustainability rating of “Very Good”.

 

David Phillips, managing director of Bradda Capital, said: “We are delighted with the level of bidding interest in the site, which reflected the strength of the logistics real estate market. It is an investment that we bought 10 years ago for income with an eye on the growing demand for warehousing in the London area. With leases at expiry, we realised the potential for adding significant value by securing planning consent for a much larger facility of more than three times the volume”.

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