It is no secret that regulatory change is transforming the property sector for the better.

Sion Bellis

Sion Bellis

The latest development is the launch of the first of three planning gateways. A central part of the Building Safety Bill, these safeguards have been specifically designed to ensure that all higher-risk residential buildings (HRRBs) are compliant and possess full fire and emergency information protocols.

A new Fire and Emergency File (FEF) has also been introduced. Building on the existing requirements of Reg 38, it enhances and formalises the management and delivery of critical handover documents for HRRBs.

The FEF will ensure the delivery of complete, accurate and compliant fire and emergency information at handover, which can then be used for correct property maintenance and management during occupancy. It will demonstrate the ability to manage risk and prepare for future regulations and audits.

Thousands of documents are required in this process, but there has always been the risk of information at handover going missing or being fragmented or unfit for purpose. Poor-quality or incomplete information puts residents and occupants at risk, and makes the developer and asset owner legally and financially vulnerable.

Although yet to be introduced in law, the FEF will become a legally binding requirement between gateways two and three (which are expected to go live in 2022).

With maximum penalties and fines for non-compliance, property owners, especially those with a sizeable proportion of planned or existing HRRBs, need to get their heads around the gateways and the FEF now.

Technology offers one solution, further standardising and professionalising the management of vital handover documentation in line with the industry’s overarching ‘golden thread’ objective.

The FEF will become non-negotiable and will mean the difference between doing business and not. Ultimately, if you cannot deliver this process in-house, you will need to seek out a partner who can.

Siôn Bellis is chief residential officer at Createmaster