Property Industry on High Alert as Governments Tighten Regulations for Cladding

Everyone will remember the terrible fire at the Grenfell Tower in London last June that claimed 71 lives. The extent of that fire was attributed to flammable cladding which caused the fire to rapidly engulf the building.

Since that fire, governments around the world have conducted investigations into whether apartment and other tower buildings have cladding which is made of highly flammable materials and therefore poses an unacceptable fire risk.

The Victorian government has recently concluded such an investigation and as a result, the use of flammable building cladding will be banned in Victoria.

The Victorian Cladding Taskforce was established last year to investigate the extent of non-compliant cladding on Victorian buildings. Acting on the taskforce’s recommendations, safety checks have been done on 87 buildings and emergency orders and building orders are being issued on properties found to contain┬ánon-compliant cladding.

The proposed ban will also include buildings under construction, which will not be allowed to be completed using banned cladding materials.

Any development applications for multi-story buildings will only be approved if the proposed building uses cladding products that are not to be banned.

In South Australia the Department of Planning Transport and Infrastructure is, in conjunction with local government, the MFS and the CFS, in the advanced stages of a statewide building audit to determine what tower type buildings have cladding which may be at risk. The results of this audit are expected to identify buildings which will require modification or replacement of their cladding to reduce fire risk. The results of the audit are expected shortly.

The findings of this audit may well have important consequences for property developers, commercial building owners, their tenants, and the owners of apartments in multi-story apartment buildings. If audited buildings are found to contain flammable cladding, remedial costs could be substantial. This is likely to put upward pressure on rents for commercial properties and also put significant strain on the sinking fund resources of Community Strata titled buildings, whose unit owners will ultimately have to bear the cost of remedial works.

We will continue to advise on this matter and the legal implications as the results of the audit in South Australia are released.