The Building Safety Act is a new legislation, concerned with improving the safety within high rise blocks of flats. The Act was introduced in April 2022, with different elements coming into force over 2022/23.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE BUILDING SAFETY ACT?
The Building Safety Act places obligations on those parties building and managing high rise residential buildings.
‘PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTABLE PERSON’ (PAP)
The Act creates a new role in law of the ‘Principal Accountable Person’ (PAP). This is usually the individual or organisation that has responsibility for the maintenance of the block, such as the RMC or Freeholder.
Most elements of the Act only apply to high rise residential buildings, meaning those are buildings that are either above 18 metres or 7 storeys. If your building is around this height, and you have not already instructed one, it would be advisable to have a building height survey performed by a suitable Surveyor. If the building can be confirmed to be below 18m/7 storeys, this could prevent unnecessary costs.
WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTABLE PERSON?
The Principal Accountable Persons’ role is to ensure the building is managed and maintained, to minimise or eliminate the risks from the spread of fire or structural failure.
Responsibilities can span from ensuring the fire resistant compartmentation within the building is maintained and that the external wall system designed so as to resist the spread of fire, to managing the risks of subsidence.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?
High rise blocks need to be registered with the newly formed Building Safety Regulator. The window to do this opens April 2023 and will close October 2023.
Once registered, the regulator will need to see evidence that the buildings safety is being managed properly. This is through what is called the ‘Safety Case File’.
In order to put the safety case file together, it will be necessary to gather information about your block. Some of this may be readily available from information provided by the developer or surveys you have previously had carried out. Some will require new or updated surveys to be undertaken (such as compartmentation surveys or foundation condition surveys). It is the unfortunate case that many buildings are being shown to have hidden issues, that if left undiscovered, may only reveal themselves in the event of a fire or major event.
Gathering all the relevant information for your building is key to compiling a comprehensive safety case report. Without it, the regulator may not grant the all-important Building Assessment Certificate.