The Building Safety Act 2022 (Section 77, as approved in April 2022) says high-rise residential buildings 18 metres or higher, or at least seven storeys tall, and incorporating two or more residential units, i.e. higher-risk structures, must register with the Building Safety Regulator by 1 October 2023. (Registration began in April 2023.)

It is an offence if a building is occupied without registration, potentially leading to 12 months’ imprisonment. Newer higher-risk buildings completed after 1 October 2023 must have relevant completion documentation and be registered before anyone can live there. Some places, for example those used entirely as hospitals, care homes or hotels, are exempt.

The principal accountable person (PAP) for each building, as authorised by its residents, must complete this process themselves. You can register now for £251 per building. This must be done online via the Building Safety Regulator’s (BSR) registration portal. The PAP can authorise someone to register the structure for them, in writing.

At Oakfield, we’ve been reviewing guidance on this and add some more details below, including information from our governing body, the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA). We’ve already helped clients through this process to ensure compliance – so we could help you, too.

Who is an accountable person?

An accountable person is an individual or organisation which owns or has a legal obligation to repair any common parts of a building. These are areas the building’s residents use, including:

  • The structure and exterior
  • Corridors
  • Lobbies
  • Staircases

Examples of an ‘accountable person’ include:

  • Freeholder or estate owner
  • Landlord
  • Management company
  • Resident management company
  • Right-to-manage company
  • Commonhold association

Principal accountable person

Each building must also have a designated or principal accountable person. This can be an individual or an organisation, for example a commonhold association, local authority or social housing provider. Where there is only one accountable person, they are the PAP.

Clarity on who’s accountable

Neither the accountable persons to the principal accountable person can delegate their legal obligations, but they can contract an individual or an organisation, such as a managing agent, to complete duties for them, in writing. However, accountability for carrying out those duties, and liability for a building’s safety, rests with the accountable persons and principal accountable person.

If the principal accountable person is an organisation, someone within it should act as the single point of contact for the Building Safety Regulator. They should have authority or duties concerning the building’s safety, although this does not make them the principal accountable person. The organisation is the principal accountable person.

Where a building operates via a complex leasehold structure, the accountable person is any person or organisation owning or with a legal obligation under their lease to repair and maintain any common parts.

If there is any doubt about who the accountable person or principal accountable person is, an interested party can seek a decision via a First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).

An interested party can be:

  • The Building Safety Regulator
  • A person or organisation owning, or claiming to own, any part of the common parts
  • A person or organisation who has, or claims to have, a repairs obligation for any common parts

How accountable persons work with Responsible Persons (Fire Safety)

A Responsible Person is a role under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. In some buildings, an accountable person or the principal accountable person will also be the Responsible Person. Otherwise, building safety information must be shared across these roles in line with data protection law.

Legal duties

Accountable persons assess and manage the risks a building may pose in terms of structural failure or the spread of fire in the area of the building for which they’re responsible.

To do this, accountable persons must:

  • Adopt measures to minimise building safety risks and reduce the severity if an incident does occur
  • Report certain fire and structural safety issues or incidents
  • Engage with residents about the building’s safety
  • Keep, update and provide information about the building
  • Transfer building safety information to any new accountable person
  • Update the Building Safety Regulator if an accountable person leaves or joins

Accountable persons are responsible for the following parts of a building:

  • The common parts  
  • Residential units or (in some circumstances) commonhold units 
  • Balconies  
  • Any other part of the building not covered by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order)

If there are multiple accountable persons for a building, they must work together and share safety information.

Additional duties for the principal accountable person

The principal accountable person must also register the building with the Building Safety Regulator. As part of this process, they must:

  • Submit structural and safety information about the building
  • Notify the Building Safety Regulator of any changes to the information submitted at registration

The principal accountable person must also manage structural and fire safety risks properly for the whole building.

Additionally, they must check that all accountable persons for the building have:

  • Identified and assessed fire and structural risks in their parts of the building
  • Taken steps to prevent incidents from happening
  • Put measures in place to lessen the severity of any incident that does occur

The principal accountable person must manage the building’s safety by:

  • Putting together a safety case for the building and preparing a safety case report
  • Implementing a reporting system to record building safety issues and incidents
  • Operating a complaints system to investigate concerns about the building’s safety risks or the performance of an accountable person
  • Displaying required information and documentation clearly within the building
  • Preparing and updating a residents’ engagement strategy so that residents and owners can participate in making building safety decisions
  • Applying for a building assessment certificate when directed by the Building Safety Regulator

The principal accountable person must notify the Building Safety Regulator about changes to the:

  • Building’s safety risks
  • Safety case report

Breach of duties

The Building Safety Regulator will work with the accountable person or principal accountable person to resolve any potential non-compliance. If there’s no resolution, the Building Safety Regulator can take several enforcement actions, including non-compliance notices and, ultimately, prosecution.

In extreme cases, the Building Safety Regulator can apply for a special measures order and appoint a special measures manager to assume building safety duties.

What happens after registration?

The BSR assesses applications and will either agree to register the building or reject the application. If the latter, they must explain why – and you can request a review of the decision within 21 days.

Key Building Information

With higher-risk structures, the PAP must submit Key Building Information (KBI) within 28 days of applying to register their building. Again this must be done online, while the necessary information should be available from the most recent fire-risk assessment.

Information includes details of fire doors’ certified fire resistance plus staircases, the roof and walls, plus how the place is used and any building work since the original construction.

Oakfield says

We can help advise on this registration, and you must complete the process if you need to and haven’t already done so. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help, click here for out contact details.