How does the new Building Safety Act affect property owners, leaseholders, managers and developers?

Published on 30.06.23
Published on 30.06.23

The Building Safety Act 2022 (the Act) is a significant piece of legislation designed to make buildings in England safer. The Act was introduced in response to the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people in June 2017. Partner Christina Antonas sets out a brief overview of the Act.

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry found there was a “systemic failure” in how building safety was regulated in England and recommended several changes to the law. In response, the government introduced the Building Safety Act 2022 with the aim of making buildings in England safer. The Act came into force in April 2022, although some parts have not yet been implemented.

Which buildings does the Act apply to?

The Building Safety Act 2022 applies to all high-rise residential buildings in England, regardless of when they were built.

A high-rise residential building is defined in the Act as a building in England that:

  • Is at least 18 metres in height or has at least seven storeys, and
  • Contains at least two residential units.

This definition includes both purpose-built flats and converted buildings, such as office blocks converted into flats.

Some buildings are exempt from the Building Safety Act 2022, including buildings used solely for industrial or commercial purposes and ones considered to be low risk, such as buildings made of non-combustible materials.

The Building Safety Act 2022 also applies to certain buildings not considered high-rise residential buildings, including care homes, hospitals and schools of more than seven storeys.

New measures introduced by the Act

The Act introduces several new measures, including:

  1. The creation of a new Building Safety Regulator.
  2. The introduction of new duties for building owners and managers.
  3. The establishment of a new industry levy to fund the work of the Building Safety Regulator.
  4. The introduction of new rights for leaseholders.

Details of each of these measures are set out below.

  1. The Building Safety Regulator

The Building Safety Regulator is a new body responsible for overseeing the safety of high-rise residential buildings in England. The Regulator will have considerable powers, including:

  • The power to inspect buildings and require building owners to take action to improve the safety of their buildings.
  • The power to issue fines to building owners who fail to comply with the law.
  • The power to take over the management of buildings that are not being properly managed.

The regulator is expected to be fully operational by April 2024.

  1. Duties of building owners and managers

The Building Safety Act 2022 introduces new duties for building owners and managers. These include the duty to:

  • Establish a building safety manager for each high-rise residential building.
  • Carry out a building safety risk assessment for each high-rise residential building.
  • Create a building safety plan for each high-rise residential building.
  • Keep records of all building safety-related information.
  • Comply with all relevant building safety regulations.

These duties are designed to ensure that building owners and managers take the necessary steps to keep their buildings safe. 

  1. Industry levy

The Building Safety Act 2022 also establishes a new industry levy. This levy will be paid by companies that carry out building work in England, including developers, contractors and consultants, and used to fund the work of the Building Safety Regulator. The levy is expected to raise around £500m.

The levy is designed to ensure that the cost of making buildings safer is shared across the construction industry.

  1. Leaseholders’ rights

The Act introduces new rights for leaseholders, including:

  • The right to information about the safety of their building.
  • The right to challenge decisions made by building owners.
  • The right to be compensated for the costs of making their homes safe.

These rights are intended to protect leaseholders from the financial burden of making their homes safe.

Further provisions

In addition to the provisions mentioned above, the Building Safety Act 2022 includes other measures, such as:

  • The establishment of a new National Construction Products Database, which will be used to track the safety of construction products.
  • The introduction of new training requirements for those working in the construction industry.

Further provisions may come into force in the future. For example, the government has said it is considering introducing a new system to make buildings more fire-resistant.

Conclusion

The Building Safety Act 2022 is a complex piece of legislation that is still being implemented. It is hoped the new laws will help prevent another tragedy such as the Grenfell Tower fire.

If you would like to discuss any matter relating to the Building Safety Act, please contact Christina Antonas at [email protected].

Disclaimer: The above is merely general guidance and should not be relied on as formal advice. We suggest you take professional legal advice before taking any action in relation to the issues discussed above.