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The new Building Safety Act 2022 (“The Act”) aims to reform building safety legislation, necessary well before the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017.

The proposals, a direct result of the tragedy which killed 72 people, were recommended by Dame Judith Hackitt in her 2018 review of fire safety and building regulations.

Having been introduced to parliament in July 2021, the Building Safety Act 2022 is expected to become law in 2023. It is one of several pieces of legislation and guidance being implemented by the Government to enhance Building Safety, including the Fire Safety Act 2021. Importantly, the Building Safety Act 2022 will help people be and feel safer in their homes and will change the way buildings are designed, constructed, and managed.

 You can read more about the Fire Safety Act here. 

Fire landscape

The Building Safety Act 2022 will focus on the following key areas:

  • The safety and standards of all buildings.

  • Assuring the safety of higher-risk buildings, both in construction and occupation.

  • Improving the competence of the people responsible for overseeing, managing, and delivering works to higher-risk buildings.

  • Ensuring clearer standards and guidance.

  • Putting residents at the heart of a new system of building safety.

Who does the Building Safety Act 2022 apply to?

The requirements set out in the Building Safety Act 2022 will affect building owners/managers and the built environment industry. This includes those who commission building work and who participate in the design and construction process, including clients, designers, and contractors.

The Building Safety Act 2022 - key takeaways

  • Applies to new or existing occupied buildings over 18 metres high or seven storeys or more, which contain at least two residential units. The design, refurbishment and construction requirements also apply to care homes and hospitals meeting the same height threshold.

  • Creates a universal change in responsibility and culture within the building industry.

  • Establishes a more effective regulatory and responsibility framework for the construction industry and introduces clearer standards and guidance.

  • Puts residents at the heart of a new system of Building Safety.

  • Clarifies who has responsibility for Fire and Building Safety throughout the life cycle of a higher risk building.

Two new roles - Building Safety Regulator and Accountable Person(s)

Described as “the biggest change to Building Safety regulation in a generation”, the Building Safety Act 2022 will see the implementation of two key roles – Building Safety Regulator and Accountable Person.

The Building Safety Regulator (BSR) will be responsible for overseeing the safety and performance systems of all buildings. They will be given powers to enforce the rules and act against those that break them. And for high-risk properties, they will be able to implement more stringent rules, including how they are designed, constructed, and occupied.

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The 3 main functions of the BSR:

  1. Oversee the safety and performance system for all buildings: this will be done through overseeing the performance of building control bodies across the public and private sectors, and by understanding and advising on existing and emerging building standards and safety risks.

  2. Encourage increased competence by setting the direction of an industry-led competence committee and establishing competence requirements for registration of building control professionals.

  3. Lead the implementation of the new regulatory regime for higher-risk buildings, including having the powers to involve other teams, including the Fire Service, when making regulatory decisions regarding Building Safety.

“The BSR will have two objectives—to secure the safety of people in and around buildings and improve building standards; and to regulate in line with best practice principles.”

The Accountable Person (building owner, freeholder, or management company) will have an ongoing duty to assess Building Safety risks and provide a ‘Safety Case Report’ which demonstrates how Building Safety risks are being identified, mitigated, and managed on an ongoing basis. They will also have to demonstrate how they are ensuring residents’ safety. In buildings where ownership structures are complex, there may be more than one Accountable Person, in which case there will be a Principal Accountable Person.

Recent amendments to the Act have removed the clause which would have required the Accountable Person to appoint a Building Safety manager to support in the planning, managing, and monitoring of the various tasks necessary to ensure that Accountable Persons’ duties are complied with. Whilst the prescribed role has been removed, the Accountable Person’s responsibilities for complying with the overall requirements of the Act are unchanged, and they will have to put in place appropriate arrangements to ensure they meet these. The Accountable Person will therefore have the flexibility to determine what staffing structures, skills and competencies are appropriate for their risks and ensure people are trained to carry out the function.

“Accountable Persons are landlords, freeholders who are in charge of repairing the building.”

Cover image - Building Safety Bill eBook

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Why is the new Building Safety Act 2022 important?

The new requirements of the Building Safety Act do not just apply to taller buildings. Parts of the Act will have implications for ALL buildings as it will make the BSR responsible for the performance of the building control sector to ensure standards are met, and for setting building standards. The Building Safety Act 2022 will establish a New Homes Ombudsman scheme for new build properties, to hold developers to account. The BSR will also be given powers to regulate construction products for the UK.

Those who are designing and constructing higher risk buildings will have formal responsibility for complying with building regulations, reducing risks, and ensuring that those who create Building Safety risks are responsible for managing them.

The Building Safety Act 2022 will enforce the requirements for keeping vital, up-to-date safety information about how a building has been designed, built, and managed. This ‘golden thread of information’ will be stored digitally for the entire life of the building. It enables you to understand a building and the steps needed to keep both the building and people safe, now and in the future.

The Building Safety Act 2022 will place specific duties on organisations which own and manage high rise residential buildings to take a range of specific and prescribed actions to identify risks, put the required measures in place to keep the building and its’ residents safe, and to evidence how they are doing this. The BSR will assess compliance with the duties, and if it is satisfied they are being met will issue a Building Assessment Certificate to permit the building to be occupied.

In addition, a Building Safety charge will be introduced, so leaseholders can see and know what they are being charged for Building Safety, and there will be powers to limit the costs that can be charged. New sanctions of up to two years in prison and unlimited fines will be in place for anyone breaking legal duties.

When will the Building Safety Act 2022 become law?

The draft bill was announced in July of 2020, and its First Reading took place a year later in 2021. The Act received Royal Assent and completed all the parliamentary stages in becoming an Act of Parliament in April 2022. While the Act won’t come into effect until 2024, this should not prevent you from being prepared for such change now. Get ahead of the game and start storing information via a golden thread sooner rather than later, as this information will be needed for both current and future builds.

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Is your organisation prepared for the upcoming changes in Building Safety legislation?

At Pennington Choices, we understand the difficulties the sector faces in meeting its Building Safety obligations. The introduction of the new legislation aims to create a universal shift in responsibility and culture within the building industry. And whilst new sanctions of up to two years in prison and unlimited fines will be in place for anyone breaking regulatory requirements, results from a recent exclusive survey in partnership with Inside Housing highlighted just how much work the sector still need to do meet their legal requirements. Organisations are facing many challenges to get their properties, systems and records in order.
      Read the full survey results here.

What systems are best for managing compliance?

Under the Building Safety Act 2022, owners/managers will be required to collect, monitor, and manage data on their buildings and how safety risks are being managed to satisfy the golden thread of information obligations and provide the evidence for their safety cases.

“Golden Thread of information - the information about a building that allows someone to understand a building and keep it safe, now and in the future, and the information management to ensure the information is accurate, up to date, easily understandable, can be accessed by those who
need it. Applies to all buildings within scope of the new more stringent building safety regime, being introduced through the Building Safety Act 2022”.

A Safety Case Report is a document that demonstrates Building Safety risks have been assessed and all reasonable steps are being taken to prevent risk. It is the primary way the BSR will hold the Accountable Person to account for identifying risks and hazards and managing them. The report is specific to the building in question and must remain valid and ready for review when required. The Safety Case report is assisted by the golden thread of information which delivers complete information and evidence around the assessment and management of Building Safety risks.

When considering what system(s) to use to hold your data, getting the key principles of accurate data management are as important as the functionality of the system you use – our blog on data accuracy guides you through this.

You will then need to think about whether any system you currently use will give you all the information you need to compile your Safety Case Report and hold your ‘golden thread’, or whether you can pull together different parts of data and work with it to meet your obligations. Catch our webinar on data management to help you consider this - here.

       Can you rely on the accuracy of your compliance data? Click here to read more.

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Would I benefit from a Building Safety Gap Analysis? (BSGA)

Our Building Safety Gap Analysis assesses your housing assets and Building Safety management approach against the proposals set out in the Building Safety Act 2022 and the changes to fire safety legislation. Assessing your current approach to managing Building Safety and reviewing your asset profile and your planned development, the Gap Analysis will enable you to look forward and understand your future obligations under the Building Safety Act 2022. To find out more how a BSGA can benefit your organisation, click here.

At Pennington Choices, we offer registered providers and property owners a range of advice and services to help solve your property management issues. Having worked for over 20 years delivering projects to property providers and landlords nationally, we have significant consulting experience.

       Click to read how we helped Arches Housing understand their compliance position across the “big five” areas of gas safety, fire safety, water hygiene, electrical safety, and asbestos management.

We can help you ensure your property portfolio complies with both current and future legislation and help you to prepare for the Building Safety Act 2022. We provide you with the assurance that you are meeting your obligations to ensure your residents live in safe homes which meet legal standards.