The Building Safety Act 2022, which came into force in 2023, is designed to make sure residents of high-rise buildings and other multi-occupancy buildings live in homes that meet robust safety standards so a tragedy like the Grenfell Fire never happens again.
This comprehensive piece of legislation affects a wide range of stakeholders including developers, building owners, managers, and construction professionals as well as residents themselves.
Here’s a quick summary of the Building Safety Act 2022 covering the key points you need to know.
Why was the Building Safety Act 2022 introduced?
The Building Safety Act 2022 came into force as a response to the Grenfell Tower fire, which revealed severe deficiencies in building regulations and practices. The Grenfell Tower disaster was attributed to flammable cladding and inadequate safety measures, which highlighted considerable inadequacies in the existing regulatory framework.
Section 156 of the Building Safety Act amends the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 by promoting a strong culture of accountability and responsibility. It introduces the role of building safety managers and emphasises that building owners and developers have a duty of care. The Act also establishes the Building Safety Regulator, an independent authority with enhanced powers to monitor and enforce compliance with safety regulations.
Most importantly, the Building Safety Act encourages transparency and information sharing among professionals, fostering collaboration to make sure safety issues are never again overlooked or concealed.
What is Section 156 of the Building Safety Act?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 has been strengthened through Section 156 of the Building Safety Act. For more information about the changes please read our blog, Easy Guide to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 amendments.
What buildings fall under the Building Safety Act?
The Building Safety Act applies to all high-rise residential buildings and other multi-occupancy residential buildings (buildings with two or more domestic premises).
Buildings that fall under the scope of the Act include flats, student accommodation, care homes, hospitals and hotels.
The Act doesn’t directly cover commercial buildings, but it does impact offices and shops that share a building with residential homes because the Act’s provisions relate to the overall safety of buildings and shared spaces.
Does the Building Safety Act apply to buildings under 18m?
The Act applies to buildings that contain two or more residential units and are:
- 18 or more metres in height, or
- 7 or more storeys high.
Who is the ‘Accountable Person’ under the Building Safety Act 2022?
Under the Act, the Accountable Person (AP) is the individual or organisation responsible for the day to day management of the building’s safety risks, compliance with safety regulations, and maintenance of safety systems.
If a building has just one Accountable Person, this person is known as the Principle Accountable Person (PAP). When there is more than one Accountable Person, one of them must be the PAP.
The HSE defines the Accountable Person as ‘the organisation or person who owns or has responsibility for the building. It may also be an organisation or person who is responsible for maintaining the common parts of a building, for example corridors or lobbies.’
What is Section 72 of the Building Safety Act?
Section 72 of the Building Safety Act provides an exact definition of an Accountable Person:
- A person who holds a legal estate in possession in any part of the common parts; or
- A person who does not hold a legal estate in any part of the building but who is under a relevant repairing obligation in relation to any part of the common parts.
What’s the role of an Accountable Person?
An Accountable Person must do everything possible to prevent fire or structural failure, and if an incident does happen, they must take every measure to lessen the impact.
The Accountable Person’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Engaging with residents in line with the resident engagement strategy. They must engage with residents to address safety concerns, provide necessary information related to the building’s safety, including sharing the Golden Thread document, to ensure that residents are informed and involved in safety matters.
- Providing information for the Safety Case. This document details how safety risks are identified, assessed, and managed within a building, including fire safety and structural risks.
- Information sharing. They must share essential information about the building’s safety measures with other Accountable Persons or Responsible Persons in the building, the Building Safety Regulator and residents.
- Complying with notices and directions. The Accountable Person is obligated to comply with any notices or directions issued by the Building Safety Regulator concerning building safety.
- Passing on all building safety information to a new Accountable Person and informing the Building Safety Regulator if there is a new Accountable Person in the building.
What is the difference between an Accountable Person and Principle Accountable Person?
In addition to the duties above, the Principal Accountable Person is also responsible for aspects including:
- Overall building safety. This includes implementing measures to prevent and mitigate fire and structural risks.
- Preparing and maintaining a Safety Case for the building. This document details how safety risks are identified, assessed, and managed within a building, including fire safety and structural risks.
- Maintaining a system where building safety concerns can be reported.
- Maintaining a system for recording complaints about the safety of the building or the conduct of an Accountable Person.
- Ensuring there is a resident engagement strategy in place and keeping the system updated.
- Making sure relevant safety information is clearly displayed for residents.
- Producing Golden Thread documents. This includes information critical details relating to construction information, fire and structural safety assessments, maintenance records and any modifications and renovations that have been made over time.
- Ensuring information is shared. They must make sure there are robust systems in place for sharing information between Accountable Persons, Responsible Persons, the Building Safety Regulator and residents.
- Complying with building regulations. They must ensure the building complies with building regulations and safety standards.
- Appointing a building safety manager. They are required to appoint a building safety manager whose role is to oversee day-to-day safety operations, conduct safety assessments and ensure compliance with safety measures.
What is the Building Safety Case 2024?
From 1st April 2024 higher-risk buildings will need a Building Assessment Certificate from the Building Safety Regulator. To obtain a Building Assessment Certificate PAPs will need to submit a Safety Case to the regulator.
On this date:
- The Building Safety Regulator (BSR) will have the authority to issue building assessment certificates. The certificate indicates a building has met the required safety standards.
- Transitional arrangements end. All buildings covered under the Building Safety Act 2022 must fully comply with regulations by this date.
- Building control activities can only be undertaken by registered building inspectors. Registration ensures individuals are qualified and competent to carry out their roles effectively.
- Professionals and building control bodies must adhere to mandatory codes and standards for building control. This ensures a consistent, rigorous approach to building safety across the country.
- The Professional Conduct Rules for Registered Building Control Approvers (RBCAs) and the Code of Conduct for Registered Building Inspectors (RBIs) will come into force. These rules and codes set ethical and professional standards.
- A gateway system will be introduced. This means the BSR can assess whether risks, roles and responsibilities are understood at different stages of a building’s construction. This is a critical step to ensure safety considerations are integrated at every phase of a building’s development.
What is the 15-year limitation period for the Building Safety Act?
The Building Safety Act 2022 has amended the Defective Premises Act 1972 by changing the limitation period for bringing a claim against a developer, contractor, architect or another professional for a building that isn’t safe to live in.
Before the Building Safety Act a claim could only be brought 6 years after work had been completed on a building. Now a claim can be brought:
- 30 years retrospectively for claims accruing before 28 June 2022.
- 15 years retrospectively for claims that accrue after 28 June 2022.
The law has been amended to protect residents’ health, safety and financial wellbeing. It also helps to ensure that in future properties that are unfit for human habitation are not built and sold.
Do you need a fire safety audit?
At Praxis42 we understand that fire safety is not only a legal obligation but crucial to keep people and property safe. With ever-evolving fire safety regulations, staying compliant can be challenging, but we’re here to help.
Our consultants conduct a comprehensive fire safety audit to check you have effective policies and procedures in place and that your fire risk assessment is being consistently followed. We inspect your premises and documents and work closely with your organisation to develop tailored, cost-effective solutions.