The government’s Building Safety Bill has passed the report stage in the House of Commons and is expected to receive royal assent later this year.
The Bill aims to provide a legislative response to the fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017. It focuses on concerns about fire safety and will reform the current legislative regime on building safety with a particular focus on the standards for high rise residential buildings. The Bill contains wide-ranging amendments to previous legislation including the Architects Act 1997 and the Building Regulations 2010. Stella Seimeni from B P Collins’ property team, advises on key changes.
The Bill provides that landlords should take ‘reasonable steps’ to recover money from any available grants or from pursuing third parties such as insurers, contractors or consultants before passing the cost of remedial works to leaseholders through the service charge. However, the term ‘reasonable steps’ has not been defined and as such we won’t be able to fully understand its scope until the Bill is enforced.
Introduction of building safety charge
A covenant regarding the payment of a new building safety service charge will be implied into leases with a term of seven or more years under, which the tenant is responsible for paying service charge.
The Bill imposes new obligations on ‘dutyholders’ which will include clients, designers as well as contractors regarding compliance with building safety standards. The contractors and designers appointed to execute a project must be competent to fulfil their allocated role by having the necessary knowledge and experience.
The role of the ‘accountable person’
The Bill creates the role of the ‘accountable person’ who will be legally responsible for building safety on occupation of a building. Their responsibilities will include assessing the building’s safety risks and preparing a safety case report as well as applying to register the building as a high-risk building. It will be an offence if registration as a high-risk building is incomplete before occupation.
The concept of a ‘principal accountable person’ is also introduced for higher risk buildings which have more than one accountable person.
Creating a ‘golden thread’
The Bill introduces responsibilities for the various stakeholders involved in the planning, construction and occupation stages of a building including responsibility for the creation of a ‘golden thread’. The golden thread is defined as information about a building that enables someone to understand the building and keep it safe. The management of that information will also need to be considered to ensure it is accurate, comprehensible, and up to date. This must be created prior to the start of building works and handed to the ‘accountable person’ after completion.
This additional responsibility must be carefully considered by developers and management companies alike as considerations regarding digital information storage, document tracking and incorporation of these changes into leasehold documents will arise.
For more free legal articles, you can sign up by emailing email@example.com.