The Building Safety Act's in-occupation management duties for Higher-Risk Buildings
All remaining duties of accountable persons relating to occupied Higher-Risk Buildings are now in force, making it a legal requirement for landlords and estate management companies to comply with numerous building safety management duties, including maintaining the "Golden Thread" of information.
Although the deadline for registering occupied Higher-Risk Buildings passed at the end of September 2023, the active management duties to keep such buildings safe did not begin immediately. Parliament has now produced detailed secondary legislation fleshing out the bare bones of the headline duties listed in Part 4 of the Building Safety Act 2022.
The Building Safety Act 2022 (Commencement No. 6) Regulations 2024 now brings into force all ongoing management duties.
The key obligations and duties which Accountable Persons and the Principal Accountable Person for each Higher-Risk Building must now comply with include:
- Accountable Persons must assess the building safety risks in relation to the parts of the building for which they are responsible, take all reasonable steps to manage building safety risks and prepare a safety case report as soon as reasonably practicable.
- The Principal Accountable Person must notify the Building Safety Regulator (the BSR) after preparing or revising a safety case report, and apply for a building assessment certificate once directed to do so by the BSR. The BSR has indicated that it will begin calling in applications for building assessment certificates from April 2024, starting with the highest priority Higher-Risk Buildings.
- The Principal Accountable Person must ensure that the residents' voice is heard and that residents are involved in the decision making on the safety of the building. This involves preparing and implementing a residents' engagement strategy, establishing and operating a complaints procedure, and setting up a mandatory occurrence reporting system to enable major safety incidents to be reported to the BSR.
- Reciprocal duties are imposed on residents and owners to not act in a way that creates a significant risk of a building safety risk materialising or to interfere with safety items, and to provide Accountable Persons with access to their flats where required to facilitate assessment of risks.
- Accountable Persons are also under a duty to maintain an electronic "Golden Thread" of information which provides an understanding of the building and the steps needed to keep both the building and people safe. They must also report and share information relating to building safety risks with the BSR, other Accountable Persons, residents and owners of residential units in the building.
- You can read more about the safety case report and other management duties in our previous article here.
Landlords and management companies (as well as their managing agents) will be particularly interested in the required contents of the Golden Thread, which again, are set out in the secondary legislation. The Higher-Risk (Management of Safety Risks etc) (England) Regulations 2023 govern the technical requirements for storing the Golden Thread information, whilst the Higher-Risk Buildings (Keeping and Provision of Information etc.) (England) Regulations 2024 provide the detail of the information to be held.
The Golden Thread information must include up to date registration information for a Higher-Risk Building, the safety case report and all of the risk assessments which fed into the safety case report, fire safety information, the evacuation strategy for the building, details of structural safety measures, details of the design and construction of the building (along with as-built plans), copies of the residents' engagement strategy, complaints lodged through the complaints procedure, and mandatory occurrence reports submitted to the BSR. In due course, a copy of any building assessment certification application will also need to be kept with the Golden Thread.
The clock is now ticking for Accountable Persons to comply with their in-occupation management duties and they could face severe penalties for any non-compliance – especially if that leads to residents being put at risk.
Building Safety – How we can help you
At Trowers, we have been at the forefront of the Building Safety regime from the start. Our dedicated group of specialist lawyers are committed to helping clients impacted by the Building Safety Act to navigate the new legislative and competency frameworks.