February 19th 2015
Legal Advice for Multiple Unit Development Completions | Arthur Cox
Arthur Cox, Solicitors have issued legal advice on SI.9 that suggests a lack of clarity and implementation difficulties are inherent in the new regulations for apartments and housing estates. It is all warnings and little guidance- see document here. The following extracts are marked bold in their document:
“The 2014 Regulations prohibit the opening, occupation or use of a building until a Completion Certificate has been filed and registered by the building control authority making compliance with the 2014 Regulations of great importance for building owners, purchasers, or prospective tenants.“
Housing development issues are also mentioned, in particular multiple units at completion stage:
“It is assumed that solicitors for purchasers of new houses or apartments will be satisfied with a copy of the Certificate of Compliance on Completion as signed and registered, together with proof of its registration as sufficient compliance with the building regulations, so long as it clearly applies to the property being acquired [see citation 1]. With regards a housing estate, it has been anticipated that individual houses will have individual certificates. It is likely that purchasers’ solicitors will want to ensure that the certificate properly identifies the unit they are concerned with [see citation 2]. More substantial commercial properties may necessitate additional certification.”
As previously noted in earlier posts and in accordance with Law Society guidance, every house in an estate or apartment building will need an individual completion certificate.
Many developers may be unaware of the unintended barriers to finishing and selling phased developments under the regulations. Official Guidance from the BCMS (Building Control Management System- see post here; SCSI link here) says “nothing is complete until everything is complete“. By default, any structure connected to a particular unit: halls, corridors, stairs, fire escapes, general access for a fire appliance, basement carspaces, drainage systems, boilers or other areas structurally connected (e.g. other neighbouring units in one block) may also need to be completed and certified separately (and concurrently).
The requirement for “total compliance” in the building control regulations introduced last March has far-reaching implications for phasing, financing of developments and also conveyancing and opening for homebuyers and commercial tenants (e.g. shopping centre anchor fit-outs etc.).
Anchor tenants traditionally have very onerous penalty clauses for not achieveing handover dates. These are factors that developers and financial institutions should be aware of in advance of commencement of any phased residential or mixed-use projects.
Other posts of interest: