Building a safer future – the key considerations for landlords now
Despite the current difficulties presented by the Covid-19 outbreak, public and private sector landlords of High Rise Residential Buildings (HRRBs) need to continue their work in addressing three key areas.
- the findings of Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry;
- the Fire Safety Bill; and
- all of the 53 recommendations put forward by Dame Judith Hackitt in her Building a Safer Future Report, anticipated as being included in the forthcoming Building Safety Act.
This is no small ask. The safety case that underpins the Hackitt recommendations requires new thinking for HRRBs. The new regulatory regime covers all stages of a building: from the design, procurement and construction of a HRRB, to the in-occupation phase. Particular difficulties are faced by landlords of existing HRRBs, already in occupation, where the regime will have to address a diverse population of tenants with a myriad of needs and physical requirements, enjoying different tenures.
This multi-dimensional aspect of HRRBs will make the compilation and maintenance of a safety case both complex and expensive. Landlords are rising to the challenge already, but with the regime being so all-encompassing, there is a risk that certain elements are turned into a tick-box exercise whilst other elements are given greater attention.
This needs to be avoided at all costs. Dame Judith Hackitt has said that landlords should not wait until legislation and should do everything they can do now to start implementing the recommendations. Given this clarion call, Landlords need to consider what they can afford and how to prioritise the implementation of the Hackitt recommendations now.
Landlords are also directed to the Government's response to last year's public consultation on the Building a Safer Future report, setting out its further proposals for building industry and fire safety reform. Despite a truncated consultation period of just six weeks, almost 900 responses were received from stakeholders. The Government confirms that a new Building Safety Bill will be tabled this year, though there are no firm timescales for either the Bill or when the new regime will take effect.
Over the coming weeks we will be sharing a number of insight pieces, with each one focusing on a different section of the "Golden Thread" that runs through the regime. Each piece will aim to set out key decisions to be made and practical issues that boards and senior management teams need to consider now.
Our first piece focuses on the initial limited impact of the Fire Safety Bill and specifically continued uncertainty on the responsibilities surrounding fire risk assessments and fire doors, click here to read the article.
Future pieces will cover a range of matters including funding requirements, the accountable person, the dutyholder regime, dealing with the shadow regulator and rights and responsibilities.
To view all our insight in relation to the new regime click here.
Please contact Rebecca Rees if you have any immediate queries concerning the Building a Safer Future regime.