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Building Safety Bill Update March 2022

Posted: 30th March 2022

Government has proposed further changes to Building Safety Bill as it travels through the House of Lords.

One of the main changes has been to remove the duty on the Accountable Person (AP) to appoint a Building Safety Manager (BSM). The BSM role was taken forward from Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety and included when the draft Building Safety Bill was published in July 2021.

The Bill is currently at the report stage which gives all members of the Lords a further opportunity to examine and make amendments to a Bill. Previous amendments have included plans to extend defects liability, an area which CIC has already spoken out on.

The recent amendments include:

- Removing the duty to appoint a BSM, ensuring there is flexibility in the regime to enable APs to set the most appropriate arrangements for their buildings and residents, with the plan being to remove the unnecessary cost a BSM could impose on leaseholders in high rise buildings.

- Removing the separate Building Safety Charge, recognising the need to protect leaseholders from another additional charging infrastructure.

- Requiring the Building Safety Regulator to invite disabled representatives onto its residents’ panel.

- Enabling resident-managed buildings to appoint a professional director to support them in meeting their building safety duties

The government stated that it has made these changes to take note of concerns raised by leaseholders where decision-making power is concentrated in the hands of freeholders and managing agents, and not the residents.

Effective enforcement of existing rules such as The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and other new processes within the Bill will be needed to ensure that buildings are safely and professionally managed.

The Fire Safety Order, for example, already places the duty to keep people safe from fire upon the Responsible Person, defined in Article 3 of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Within the measures included within the Bill, the AP would still need to meet their statutory duties and manage buildings safely. The cost of employing someone to fulfil these duties could ultimately be passed onto leaseholders, for example via the service charge.

Other new amendments include:

- Powers to block developers from starting work even where they have planning permission, and to stop new buildings being signed off as fit for use.

- New Remediation Contribution Orders to be available to compel developers, partnerships and limited liability partnerships, and landlords to pay for remediation, preventing them from hiding their liability behind complex company structures.

- New plans to compel construction products manufacturers to pay to put right buildings that have been compromised by their products.

- Qualifying leaseholders with properties valued at less than £175,000 (or £325,000 in Greater London) to be protected entirely from all remediation costs, including those related to non-cladding defects.

- Where their building’s developer, freeholder or landlord cannot be traced or cannot afford to pay the full costs, leaseholders are now being allowed to spread their capped contribution towards non-cladding remediation payment over ten, rather than five years.

- Remediation Orders will be available to set out the remediation work required, and the time period in which it must be completed by the landlord of a building.

When the Bill has completed all the parliamentary stages in both Houses, it is ready to receive royal assent and will become an Act of Parliament. Royal Assent is likely by mid to end 2022. The first tranche of implementation for the Building Safety Act is likely to be take place by the end of 2023 with full implementation by mid-2024.