The Building Safety Act 2022 contains several key points for those involved in managing and developing higher-risk mixed-use or residential properties.

Carolyn Davies

Carolyn Davies

Oliver Park

Oliver Park

The Building Safety Regulator will be overseeing not only the new design and construction ‘gateways’ under the act, but also regulation of existing or new higher-risk buildings when occupied. Such higher-risk buildings will need to be registered in order to be legally occupied, with these provisions expected to come into effect in around October 2023.

It is anticipated that this central register of higher-risk buildings will be used to select which buildings need to apply for a building assessment certificate. The procedure for this new certification system will be set out in secondary regulations, which have yet to be published. No doubt the information required to demonstrate that a higher-risk building is safe will at least largely be in line with what is required in the ‘safety case report’ being produced by the ‘principal accountable person’ to demonstrate that the building is safe for occupation.

The principal accountable person and accountable person (who will be landlords and freeholders responsible for repairing higher-risk buildings) are new roles created by the act to provide for particular responsibilities to be carried out, including an ongoing obligation to assess building safety risks and to store information in the ‘golden thread’ (an electronic facility containing information related to the as-built construction of a higher-risk building).

The principal accountable person should prepare a strategy to engage with residents on aspects relating to the management and safety of the building. In turn, there are also duties on residential tenants under the act. For example, they will have obligations not to act in a way that creates a significant risk of a building safety risk materialising, not to interfere with safety equipment and to mitigate the risk of serious harm.

The enforcement powers under the act should any principal accountable person or accountable person fail to comply with the act includes issuing compliance notices and the ability to appoint a ‘special measures manager’ to carry out the functions of all accountable persons.

In relation to certain defects causing a risk to the safety of people in or about the building due to the spread of fire, or the collapse of all or part of the building, there will be restrictions on the recoverability of the cost of remedying any defects from leaseholders through a service charge and also certain caps on contributions introduced.

A New Homes Ombudsman scheme is also to be established under the act, with the aim being to allow the owners of new homes to go directly to those involved with the development and construction of their home to seek redress where minimum standards required by the act have not been met. The government will have powers under the act to require developers to join this New Homes Ombudsman scheme.

The above is only a brief overview of some of the key considerations under the act. It is important for all those involved in the property sector to take stock of their responsibilities and how these are set to change over the coming months, particularly given that the Building Safety Act will be implemented in stages.

Carolyn Davies and Oliver Park are associates at law firm Charles Russell Speechlys