The Building Safety Bill, recently published on 5 July 2021, aims to create ground-breaking changes to building safety regulation and set new standards on how residential buildings should be constructed and maintained in the future.
According to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, the new Bill will ensure high standards of safety for people’s homes, especially for high-rise buildings, by giving residents the power to hold building owners and developers accountable and imposing severe penalties against those who threaten their safety.
The key points of the Building Safety Bill are summarised below.
An independent Building Safety Regulator will be established by the Bill that will be responsible for the following:
- overseeing the safety and standards of all buildings during the design, construction, and completion phase so that safety risks are taken under consideration from the early stages of the planning process
- ensuring that high-rise residential buildings, 18 metres or higher, that are at greater risk are effectively managed and maintained
- holding accountable those who do not comply with the rules and taking enforcement action if necessary
The Bill will also give power to the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to remove construction products from the market that pose safety risks and prosecute or enforce civil penalties to the businesses that will not comply with the legislation.
The accountable person for high-rise residential buildings, who in most cases is the building owner, will be obliged under the Bill to appoint a Building Safety Manager. The Building Safety Manager will help with the management of the block they will be responsible for and ensure that all obligations are met. However, it is not clear yet what competencies Building Safety Managers will need to have.
Residents of high-rise buildings will be empowered by the Bill to raise their concerns regarding any safety issue in their buildings to building owners and managers who will be obliged to listen to them. If residents feel that their concerns are not taken into consideration, they will then be able to raise them with the Building Safety Regulator.
Leaseholders will be also protected since building owners will be required to provide evidence that they have explored alternative ways to meet remediation costs before passing these onto leaseholders. In addition to this, the amount of time that residents will be able to seek compensation for substandard workmanship and unacceptable defects will be increased from 6 to 15 years.
Most importantly, the Building Safety Bill will raise the safety standards of the industry and lead the way towards the construction of safer homes in the future.
The House of Commons is looking at holding a second reading on the bill next week to ensure it reaches committee stage before the summer recess.