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Building Safety Act 2022 Summary

Building Safety Act 2022 Summary

Building Safety Act 2022 Summary

The Building Safety Act 2022 is a legislative response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, aimed at ensuring the safety of residential buildings.

It introduces new processes for addressing fire and structural risks in both new and existing buildings.

Among its key changes are the establishment of clear responsibilities for building owners, developers, and managers regarding fire safety, as well as the creation of a Building Safety Regulator to oversee compliance.

This blog will explain the key changes outlined in the Building Safety Act, including what buildings and circumstances it applies to.

The information given here is intended for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.

For specific Building Safety Act 2022 guidance, please contact our property disputes solicitors on 0330 175 7613, or email Andrew Olins at andrew.olins@ibblaw.co.uk.

What is the Building Safety Act 2022?

The Building Safety Act 2022 is a recent piece of legislation that came into force in October 2023. It was introduced by the government to enhance the safety and quality of residential buildings in the UK.

Its main goal is to tackle the systemic issues that caused the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017 by implementing measures to guarantee that buildings meet the highest safety standards, particularly tall and high-risk structures.

This act marks a significant advancement in safeguarding the rights and safety of residents and homeowners across England and Wales. It offers extensive protections to leaseholders, shielding them from the financial burdens of fixing past building safety flaws.

The act introduces a range of measures, ensuring that those responsible for building safety are held liable for any defects that emerge. Alongside revamping existing regulations, it establishes a clear framework for how residential buildings should be designed, maintained, and kept safe.

To ensure effective oversight of this new system, three new bodies will be set up: the Building Safety Regulator, the National Regulator of Construction Products, and the New Homes Ombudsman. These entities will play crucial roles in overseeing and supporting the prioritisation and protection of home safety.

Does the Building Safety Act apply to all buildings?

The Building Safety Act applies to all building works that are subject to building regulations. The legislation applies particular controls to high-risk residential buildings. According to the Building Safety Act, high-risk buildings are classed as buildings of more than 18m in height or have seven or more storeys and two or more residential units.

The act introduces a more robust regulatory framework to ensure the safety of residents, addressing issues highlighted by tragedies like Grenfell Tower. Key provisions include mandatory safety assessments, clearer accountability for building safety, and the establishment of a new building safety regulator.

While there may be exemptions for certain structures, the act’s primary objective is to enhance safety standards across the board, making it applicable to the vast majority of buildings.

What is a higher risk building under the Building Safety Act?

High-rise residential buildings are known as higher-risk buildings under the Building Safety Act 2022. This means all buildings over 18 metres or 7 storeys in height with two or more residential units.

All occupied higher-risk buildings had to register with the new Building Safety Regulator by 1 October 2023.

The government has now made a register of high-rise buildings available, which can be searched by postcode.

How does the Building Safety Act protect leaseholders?

One of the main aims of the Building Safety Act is to prevent leaseholders from having to pay to make their homes safe.

As part of the act, leaseholders can no longer be asked to pay for the cost of rectifying unsafe cladding.

This law ensures that those accountable for constructing defective buildings shoulder the responsibility for fixing them and that leaseholders are legally safeguarded from overwhelming bills for past safety flaws.

The government insists that developers must foot the bill for rectifying buildings they were involved in developing or refurbishing, regardless of whether they still own the property. The law stipulates that building owners associated with the developer must cover the costs of rectifying historical safety flaws.

Courts have been granted expanded powers to extend liability to associated companies. This ensures that legal actions for claims against faulty buildings can be brought against all companies linked to a developer.

In cases where the developer cannot be identified or has not agreed to cover the costs for their buildings, direct funding will be provided for cladding system repairs and remediation. This ensures that qualifying leaseholders won’t face expenses to rectify unsafe cladding.

What is a qualifying lease under the Building Safety Act?

A qualifying lease is a lease that is covered by the leaseholder protections.

The UK Government states that a lease is qualifying if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • It is a long lease (more than 21 years in length) of a single dwelling within a building of above 11 metres or at least five storeys.
  • You are responsible for paying a service charge.
  • The lease was granted before the 14 February 2022.
  • On 14 February 2022:
    • The dwelling was your only or main home, meaning it was the home where you spent most of your time, or
    • You did not own more than 3 dwellings in the United Kingdom in total – please note, dwellings outside of England will not be covered by the leaseholder protections.

The leaseholder protections apply to leaseholders in a relevant building in England only. The leaseholder protections do not apply to leasehold properties located in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

How does the Building Safety Act ensure residential homes are created and maintained safely?

The Building Safety Act introduced the concept of an accountable person, or principal accountable person if there are multiple people. This person or company is whoever is responsible for repairing and maintaining any of the common parts of an occupied building.

Under the new act, the accountable person must demonstrate that they have taken all practical measures to mitigate risks within the building in line with the act’s requirements. Failure to meet these responsibilities may result in legal action.

Further accountability has also been created by the Fire Safety Order, requiring responsible persons to ensure the safety of all individuals on the premises. Financial responsibility for necessary repairs is also required, which may result in additional charges through the Building Safety Levy.

Section 156 of the Building Safety Act has placed greater emphasis on fire safety, introducing stricter regulations tailored to fire risk management and parts of a property that are high-risk. It outlines emergency evacuation protocols and protocols for coordinating with fire services.

The act emphasises the importance of maintaining structural integrity, assigning responsibilities for structural surveys, safety risk assessments, and necessary remedial work. Construction materials must meet appropriate standards, with thorough oversight to minimise the risk of structural damage.

What is the Building Safety Regulator?

The Building Safety Act introduced the establishment of the Building Safety Regulator (BSR). This regulator, housed within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), was tasked with ensuring that properties adhere to safety standards throughout their development and upkeep.

The BSR, operating under the umbrella of the HSE, has several key roles:

  • Ensuring the safety and quality standards of all buildings.
  • Supporting and encouraging professionals in the construction industry and building control to enhance their skills.
  • Leading the enforcement of the new regulatory framework specifically designed for high-rise structures.

Get in touch with our solicitors specialising in the Building Safety Act

The information given here is intended for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.

For specific guidance on Building Liability Orders, please contact us on 0330 175 7613, or email us at andrew.olins@ibblaw.co.uk