Freeholder Grey GR – which is ultimately owned by the Railways Pension Scheme – has been given 21 days to commit to remediating fire safety defects at its 15-storey Vista Tower block in Stevenage or an application will be made to the courts.
The action follows two years of delays for more than 100 residents living in the tower.
The freeholder is one of the first to face action by the newly created Recovery Strategy Unit – set up to identify and pursue firms who repeatedly refuse to fix buildings.
Levelling Up Secretary of State, Simon Clarke said: “The lives of over 100 people living in Vista Tower have been put on hold for over two years whilst they wait for Grey GR to remediate unsafe cladding. Enough is enough.
“This legal action should act as a warning to the rest of industry’s outliers – big and small. Step up, follow your peers and make safe the buildings you own or legal action will be taken against you.”
Sophie Bichener, leaseholder in Vista Tower said: “This action is a step in the right direction for the innocent leaseholders still desperately pleading with their building owners to take responsibility.
“Now the leaseholder protections are in force – it should serve as a warning to those entities still playing games and doing all they can to dodge their legal obligations.”
Leaseholders of Vista Tower have been handed bills and are unable to sell their homes despite unsafe cladding being identified on the building over two years ago.
The building was registered with the Building Safety Fund in 2020 but the funding agreement is yet to be signed, meaning the government cannot release any money.
There are at least 23 other buildings registered with the Building Safety Fund that have been unable to progress due to unnecessary delays.
The department said it is “examining these cases closely and considering next steps.”