Draft Building Safety Bill – Further Guidance
Following the recent publication of the draft Building Safety Bill, we have set out further guidance on some of the key proposals to assist our clients in understanding the potential impacts.
The Building Safety Regulator
The Building Safety Regulator’s key duties will be to introduce a better safety system and impose sanctions and regulations to ensure this happens. There will be a stronger focus on building safety for developers and landlords, improving competence for those working in the built environment and improving building control standards.
A dutyholder system will be implemented in every building, to ensure that the person creating building safety risk is responsible for managing it. The building cycle will be split into gateways, with different dutyholders for different gateways.
Each gateway will be assessed at handover by the Regulator, who can stop progress if safety standards are not met. The phases will be connected by a ‘golden thread of information’, including the original design and construction, as well as changes during the building’s lifecycle.
The dutyholder will become the Accountable Person when the building is occupied. This will usually be the building owner. Responsibilities include registering the building with the Regulator and securing a Building Safety Assurance Certificate before occupation.
The Regulator will have powers to issue ‘stop notices’ on construction projects found to be in breach and ‘compliance notices’ compelling issues to be fixed by a set date.
They will also hold building control bodies to account and ban or remove them from the Inspector’s Register. If an offence is committed with the “consent or connivance” of a Director, that Director may be prosecuted. The time limit for prosecution will increase to 10 years.
Costs to Leaseholders
A “building safety charge” will be set up for leaseholders, separate to the service charge. Freeholders will hold this money in a separate account and only be allowed to pay for works with it. Leaseholders can refuse payments that are unreasonable or if there is no clear breakdown of costs. However, the charge must be paid within 28 days and will also cover new measures, e.g. paying for a Building Safety Manager and day-to-day management of buildings.
The Building Regulations Advisory Committee will provide evidence-based guidance on new issues that emerge in the built environment.
The Competence Committee will aim to overcome the fragmented and inconsistent competence of workers and managers that currently exists in the building safety sector.
A residents’ panel will be established, so they have a voice in the changes being made to building safety guidance. The Regulator will consult the panel on its strategic plan and changes that may affect their rights and obligations.
New Homes Ombudsman
The New Homes Ombudsman will enable new homeowners to make complaints about the quality of construction and have them investigated. All developers will be required to join the scheme and the Ombudsman will work with them to establish a code of practice.
What does this mean for our clients?
The key proposals of the Building Safety Bill will be far-reaching and will place additional requirements on residential property managers. There will be a long overdue focus on competence, meaning that everyone working in fire safety design and management will need to possess the correct level of experience, qualifications and training.