Written by Marnie Thomas
In the UK Government’s own words, the Building Safety Act 2022 (the Act) brings about ‘the biggest changes to building safety regulation in a generation’. The legislation, triggered by the Grenfell Tower tragedy, imposes greater rights for leaseholders and places substantial responsibility upon the construction industry when designing and constructing high risk buildings.
The new regulatory regime
Central to the Act is the new, more stringent, higher-risk building regulatory regime. The regime aims to deal with the significance and nature of risks inherent in higher-risk buildings, such as fire and structural integrity risks.
Higher-risk buildings are buildings in England which are:
- at least 18 metres high or with at least seven storeys; and
- with two or more residential units.
This captures a much wider range of buildings than simply high-rise residential tower blocks. Student accommodation, care homes and hospitals are also included.
Building safety regulator
Under the Act, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for overseeing all elements of the new regime as the dedicated building safety regulator. Previously, developers and contractors were free to choose an approved inspector or local authority to act as regulator for their construction works.
The three gateways
A key feature of the new regime is the creation of three gateway points at which those building (or carrying out significant refurbishment works) to higher-risk buildings are required to seek approval from HSE.
The three gateways are:
- Planning application stage;
- Commencement of construction; and
The new regime identifies dutyholders who will be held accountable for managing building safety risks throughout the design, construction and occupation of higher-risk buildings. The dutyholder must take all reasonable steps to prevent building safety risks from happening, such as the spread of fire or structural failures, and to reduce the seriousness of such an event if it happens.
Usually the dutyholder will be the owner of the building. However, there may be situations where there is more than one dutyholder, such as the building owner and a leaseholder with repairing obligations under the lease.
If you have concerns about who should be held accountable for managing risks associated with your building, it is important to seek legal advice now.
Corporate directors and managers can now be held liable for offences where breaches of the building regulations are due to their consent, connivance or neglect. This could result in a criminal offence being committed, with the potential for fines and imprisonment for up to two years. Not only is the HSE given powers of prosecution, but the time limits for taking enforcement action in relation to breaches have been extended from 12 months to 10 years.
Professional, expert advice can save time & cost
The introduction of the Building Safety Act 2022 represents a landmark step for improving building safety in England. Whether you are a freeholder, leaseholder or management company, Humphries Kirk can provide practical, expert advice on how the new legislation affects you.
If you are looking for advice on this new registration please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We have offices in Bournemouth, Cranborne Chase, Crewkerne, Dorchester, Parkstone, Poole, Swanage and Wareham.