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Perils of cladding after the Grenfell Tragedy

Posted by Andrew Grima on 16 Nov 2017

The Grenfell Tower fire which occurred in London in June of this year was shocking and heartbreaking for all involved. My heart goes out to the victims, their families and all who witnessed this tragedy.

However, as the months have passed by, this tragedy has left us all asking the question of what to do about properties with exterior cladding.  

I am not a building engineer or fire safety consultant – I am however a lawyer who spends his days advising commercial clients on tenancy issues in relation to their offices, warehouses and shops, and this is an issue which affects them.

Typically, your lease will not talk directly to responsibility of ensuring whether the exterior cladding is safe. However, the lease will say that the tenant takes on responsibility for work health and safety obligations. In any event, as an employer, the tenant will have work health and safety obligations. But, will the work health and safety regime in Australia impose responsibility on an employer in the event that people suffer damage or injury caused by a fire that is accelerated by the type of exterior cladding on the premises?  

Whether the relevant legal authorities will pass rules and regulations around this issue is unclear. I am asking my clients to at least consider whether there is cladding on the exterior premises and if there is, they should be at the very minimum asking whether it is the type of cladding that could exacerbate the effects of a fire and if so, what steps their landlord is taking to mitigate the risks.

This issue may open a Pandora’s Box for landlords, strata managers and tenants. If you’re a tenant you should at least be asking the question and being proactive in managing risk as much as possible.

If you need any further advice in relation to your leasing transactions, please contact Andrew who represents a lot of our firm’s clients in relation to their tenancy issues.

If you have a view on this issue, feel free to comment on LinkedIn or twitter:

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