Five years on from the Grenfell tragedy, the government’s new Building Safety Act is now law, although different elements of it will come into force at different times, some potentially many months into the future. It brings with it some significant changes to the industry, and it focuses in the main on high-rise residential buildings which are at least seven storeys or 18m high.
In essence, it means that building owners must show that safety has been taken into account at all stages of the construction process, with all risks considered from the outset. The basic principle is that if you create a building safety risk, you need as far as possible to take responsibility for managing it.
While the new burden on developers should not be excessive, failure to show compliance could lead to delays and extra costs. And the newly established Building Safety Regulator (BSR) which has the power to ask to see documents and stop works, will monitor compliance at every stage.
In the main, the biggest burden of responsibility of this act falls on the building owner as the key accountable person.
We’ve summarised the main points of this legislation below:
- Those responsible for managing blocks of flats will be required to evidence that they comply with appropriate fire safety measures as well as ensuring structural safety
- There will be a building regulator and all buildings within scope will need to be registered with it
- Under the terms of the act, leaseholders will enjoy greater protection from having to pay for historic building defects, with this responsibility falling primarily on developers and building owners
- A detailed ‘golden thread’ of information about safety measures will need to be regularly updated throughout the building’ s lifecycle, and made accessible to residents, emergency services and contractors
What Oakfield says
As far as we at Oakfield Estate Agents are concerned, we’re most interested in leaseholder-owned buildings, or those managed by a Residents’ Management Company (RMC). This legislation is of particular concern for members of RMCs, because even if there is a third-party landlord, it will be the RMC directors who will be considered the principle accountable persons and bear the greatest liability for compliance with the act. Non-compliance could even potentially result in a criminal prosecution.
So we’re aware that this new legislation does place even more responsibility on RMCs. And it will therefore be hugely important to ensure complete compliance with the Building Safety Act every step of the way. At Oakfield we’re managing agents for many buildings ourselves, so we’re watching these changes unfold very closely and can help building owners and RMCs with compliance at every step.
We work with investment landlords, RMS and right-to-manage companies across East Sussex to manage residential blocks and estates, comprising anything from two to 70 units. In all, we’re responsible for 900 leasehold properties.
Talk to us today about our block management services and any concerns you may have regarding the Building Safety Act. While there’s no need to worry unduly about the new legislation, you’ll need to take appropriate action to show you’re complying with it.