The Building Safety Bill received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 and came into law as the Building Safety Act 2022 (9 months after the Bill was introduced into the House of Commons in July 2021).
When the Bill was introduced in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy and Dame Judith Hackitt’s report on Building Regulations and Fire Safety, the Government described it as the most fundamental reform of regulation across the construction and residential property sectors in living memory.
The new Act allows for the appointment of a Building Safety Regulator (part of the Health and Safety Executive), who will be responsible for the regulation of all buildings with new statutory roles for designers and contractors on all projects. The main content of the new Act remains unchanged from the 2020 draft Bill, however, there are some noteworthy additional changes and clarifications:
- The time limit for residents to bring a claim in relation to substandard construction work will be extended from the usual six years up to 15 years.
- In addition to residential buildings, care homes and hospitals will now also be considered higher-risk buildings if they are higher than 18 metres, and so would fall under the new regulatory regime.
- There will be specific competency requirements for the positions of Principal Designer and Principal Contractor.
- The previously proposed requirement to provide the position of Building Safety Manager has subsequently been withdrawn. Many have already hired Building Safety Managers, however, leaseholders raised concerns that these managers, who can be paid salaries of up to £60,000 per year, will be an expensive cost for them to cover. The new amendments remove the legal requirement to hire a dedicated Building Safety Manager, leaving it up to the accountable person for a building, who is usually the building owner, to ensure they have the necessary arrangements in place to meet their obligations under the new Act.
- The amendments also strengthen the new Remediation Contribution Orders, which can be used by courts to require developers and their associated companies to pay for remediation of buildings they have developed.
Without doubt, the new Act creates an entirely new and more rigorous regime for ‘relevant buildings’, with new planning and building control gateways, safety cases and a statutory ‘golden thread of information’ requirements, all linked to the formal certification of such buildings.
There is now an expectation for the development of further secondary legislation and guidance needed to bring the Act into full force within the next 12-18 months, which should start to emerge this autumn.
Over the coming months we will be looking at the impact this Act will have on the UK residential property sector.
Get in touch if we can support your organisation with any of the changes that this Act will bring.
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