The Building Safety Act
What is it?
The Building Safety Act 2022 (Act) is a new law that was granted Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 and the government’s response to the Grenfell disaster.
The Act is a comprehensive piece of legislation made up of 6 parts:
Part 1- Introduction
Part 2- The Regulator and its functions
Part 3- Building Act 1984 (details of amendments to the
BA 1984 made by the BSA 2022)
Part 4- Higher-risk buildings (imposes duties on
Part 5- Other provision about safety, standards etc
Part 6- General
The Act aims to improve building safety and provide more rights, powers, and protections to residents and homeowners in England.
It introduces new legal requirements, roles, and responsibilities for the registration, document submission, and ongoing resident engagement of residential buildings.
The Act creates three new bodies to provide effective oversight of the new legislation:
The Building Safety Regulator – will oversee the safety and performance of all buildings, with a special focus on high-rise buildings.
The National Regulator of Construction Products – will oversee a more effective construction products regulatory regime and lead and co-ordinate market surveillance and enforcement in this sector across the UK.
The New Homes Ombudsman – will allow relevant owners of new-build homes to escalate complaints to a New Homes Ombudsman. Developers of new-build homes will be required by secondary legislation to become and remain a member of the New Homes Ombudsman Scheme
Together these changes mean owners will manage their buildings better, and the home-building industry has the clear, proportionate framework it needs to deliver more, and better, high-quality homes.
Protection for Leaseholders
Schedule 8 of the Act offers some protection to some leaseholders, for some remediation costs for some defects. It is unfortunately not a blanket protection and there is still the likely risk that clients will incur higher service charges.
It aims to offer protections for qualifying leaseholders from the costs associated with remediating historical building safety defects, and a set of measures that will allow those responsible for building safety defects to be held to account.
The new leaseholder protection measures, remove the idea that leaseholders should be the first port of call to pay for historical safety defects.
Building owners will not legally be able to charge qualifying leaseholders for any costs in circumstances where a building requires cladding to be removed or remediated. Qualifying leaseholders will also have protections from the costs associated with non-cladding defects.
What is a Qualifying Leaseholder?
S119(2) of the Building Safety Act sets out what is considered as a ‘qualifying lease’:
- It is a long lease of a single dwelling in a ‘relevant building’;
- The tenant under the lease is liable to pay a service charge;
- The lease was granted before 14 February 2022; and
- At the beginning of 14 February 2022 (the qualifying time);
- The dwelling was a relevant tenants’ only or principal home
- A relevant tenant did not own any other dwelling in the UK;
- A relevant tenant owned no more than two dwellings in the
UK apart from their interest under the lease.
If a lease is a Qualifying Lease, a leaseholder will not be liable to pay for remediation costs related to Relevant Defects if the defect was the responsibility of the landlord or somebody associated with the landlord (e.g. a contractor engaged by the landlord).
This is an important protection for the leaseholder because these remediation costs can be substantial.
What is a ‘Relevant Building’
S117(2) of the Building Safety Act refers to a relevant building as, a self-contained building which:
- Contains at least two dwellings; and
- Is either (i) at least 11 meters high; or (ii) contains 5 storeys.
Where a building is of at least 18 metres in height or at least 7 storeys (excluding underground storeys); and contains at least 2 residential units, it is considered a High-Rise Building and therefore higher risk.
It was a requirement of the Act that these High-Rise Buildings be formally registered on a new national register by 1st October 2023.
The Act does not apply to non-qualifying leases and buildings.
Hospitals and care homes are excluded from the definition of Higher Risk Buildings in Part 4 of the BSA because such buildings are already regulated as workplaces by the Regulatory Reform (Fire safety) Order 2005 (Order) and hotels and secure residential institutions are excluded for the same reason.
What is a ‘Relevant Defect’
A relevant defect is defined as:
A defect that arises as a result of works which (a) were undertaken in the last 30 years and (b) cause a ‘building safety risk’, that is, a risk to the safety of people in or about the building arising from the spread of fire or collapse.
It should be noted that defects are not restricted to fire safety defects or fire safety remediation works.
A combination of the above and other factors within the Act will set out who can benefit from the protections afforded by the Act.
Whilst set out with good intentions and certain welcome legal frameworks to create better and more safer buildings, the Act has several pitfalls for sellers, buyers, lenders, and those in the construction industry.
We here at Ali Legal have taken the time to understand the Act and continue to do so as changes are made and further implementation take place through secondary legislation.
If you are buying or selling a property that may fall under the provisions of the Act or become involved in property litigation due to the requirements of the Act, then please contact our specialist solicitors for advice.
Get Expert Guidance on the Building Safety Act 2022
If you are navigating the buying or selling process of a property that falls under the provisions of the Building Safety Act, or if you find yourself facing property litigation due to the Act’s requirements, do not hesitate to seek professional advice from Ali Legal LTD.
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