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The Building Safety Act 2022

The Building Safety Act 2022 received Royal Assent on 28 April and will introduce a new framework for the design, construction and occupation of higher risk buildings (HRBs) – defined as buildings over 18 metres or seven storeys high that contain at least two residential units. It will also put in place new legal duties for the organisations that own and manage them to identify risks, ensure measures are in place to keep residents safe during occupation and evidence this to the Building Safety Regulator (BSR).

The BSR has been given specific enforcement powers enabling it to investigate and prosecute duty holders who breach their obligations. If a breach is identified, the BSR may serve a compliance notice or in severe cases, charge an AP or PAP with a criminal offence of giving rise to a risk of death or serious injury.

It is anticipated that a ‘Safety Case Report’ will be required for all HRBs Building Safety Act 2022 and that this will include details of how the risks have been identified, mitigated and managed on an ongoing basis in the building. It will also demonstrate that these risks have been re-assessed on an annual basis. In addition, the BSR has issued guidance on what a Safety Case Report will require, and this is available to download.

As a result of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the government has set out to create a universal change in responsibility and culture across the sector, as well as improving standards and introducing clearer legal obligations for those that own and manage cladding buildings. The new requirements will apply to anyone who designs, builds or owns a higher-risk building, including councils, housing associations, private landlords, developers and contractors.

It will be a requirement for any organisation who owns or manages a building to identify an Accountable Person for the property and, where ownership structures are complex, it will be necessary for there to be a Principal Accountable Person. There will also be a requirement to register the building with the BSR, to log information on an ongoing basis and to review the Safety Case Report.

The Act will also provide a new cause of action to enable claims to be brought against companies associated with the developer that designed, built or refurbished the building. This will prevent developers from relying on complex corporate structures to avoid liability for remediation of historical safety defects.

Finally, the BSA 2022 will extend the period within which building owners and leaseholders can bring a claim under Part 1 of the DPA from 6 years to 30 years. This will enable them to recover compensation for damage caused by defective building work completed up to 30 years before the relevant provisions of the Act came into force.