The new Building Safety Act, first announced by then-Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, became law on 28th April 2022 (although many measures will take between a year and 18 months to introduce).
The reforms originate from the fallout of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and aim to address bad practice in building design and management. Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, which recommended major change to regulations and industry culture, played a significant role in shaping the legislation.
The government states that the new Act will create “lasting generational change and a clear pathway for the future on how residential buildings should be constructed and maintained”.
The Act aims to give residents the power to hold builders and developers to account and will bring in sanctions with real teeth against parties which impair safety.
A new Building Safety Regulator will oversee processes to ensure that safety risks in all residential buildings higher than 18m (or seven storeys or more), new or existing, are properly managed.
Gateway points will be included at every stage of a building’s construction, ensuring that safety risks are considered from the planning application onwards.
The plans require that a ‘golden thread’ of information is created, stored and updated throughout the lifetime of a building.
The Regulator’s key remit is as follows:
• “To implement the new, more stringent regulatory regime for higher-risk buildings”
• “To oversee the safety and performance of all buildings”
• “To assist and encourage competence among the built environment industry, and registered building inspectors“
Earlier plans for a Building Safety Manager to be appointed to each building were dropped by the government in view of the likely cost to leaseholders.
The Act places clear obligations on building owners and the regulator is charged with taking swift action to enforce their obligations if these are not met. This is backed by a regime of penalties for non-compliance.
As we have previously advised, the Act provides leaseholders with protection from the cost of rectifying life critical fire safety defects in their building. Housing Secretary Michael Gove has secured commitments from leading housing developers to pay to remediate buildings which they developed or refurbished in the last 30 years.
E&J Estates is already securing government cash from the Building Safety Fund on leaseholders’ behalf. The developer commitment is broader though, being designed to cover ALL life critical fire safety defects, rather than just specified types of unsafe cladding. It also applies to all buildings over 11 metres in height, whereas the BSF is restricted to buildings higher than 18 metres.
Much of the detail of how to secure developer funding remains to be clarified, but E&J Estates is working at pace to ensure that our leaseholders benefit from the new deal. We also welcome the broader direction of the Act in heralding a new era of enhanced building safety.