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The draft Building Safety Bill has been published with the new, more stringent regulatory regime likely to take effect in Autumn 2021. The bill proposes total regulatory reform to the fire and structural safety regime for all "higher-risk" buildings.

The draft Bill is the Government's legislative response to the Grenfell Tower fire. Three years on, those involved are still searching for answers, the delayed phase 2 of the inquiry has been reconvened and landlords are working at varying paces to remove unsafe cladding from their higher risk buildings.

The Building Safety Bill now brings into sharper focus some of the main issues that landlords gearing up for the legislation have been anticipating. These include:

  • the new criminal sanctions (including imprisonment up to 2 years and unlimited fines) that will attach to the Accountable Person. This is the legal person who under the new regime will be responsible for the fire and structural safety of a "higher – risk" building. Criminal liability could also attach to individual directors, managers and members of the Accountable Person, if it is a body corporate, where there is consent, connivance or neglect by the individual;
  • the hard stops to building projects at planning, construction and occupation stages if the new Building Safety Regulator is not satisfied with the safety information provided;
  • the requirement for a Building Assurance Certificate for all higher-risk buildings. The detail as to the longevity and renewal requirements of the Building Assurance Certificate will be prescribed in secondary legislation but we anticipate from the previous consultation that a 5 yearly (standard) renewal is likely; 
  • the new statutory duties on residents including to assist the Building Safety Manager in carrying out his duties to assess and take steps to prevent building safety risk. These new duties will be subject to further regulation but the bill provides for the Accountable Person to be able take action in the County Court where there has been an alleged contravention by a resident with the County Court being able to order steps to be taken or prohibited by the resident. 
  • the creation of a new Building Safety Regulator with real teeth.

The draft Building Safety Bill represents the most radical change to the UK building industry since the advent of the Health & Safety at Work Act. The industry cannot wait for the bill to become an Act of Parliament before it is ready to implement the new regime. Landlords should remember the clarion call of Dame Judith Hackitt to "get on with it", and any temptation to delay compliance may produce bigger hurdles and increased cost further down the line.

For further information on the draft Building Safety bill please click here