The Building Safety Bill (BSB), aims to introduce a new regulatory standard to the UK and will be overseen by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Let's explore how building safety will now be measured and explore the BSB's impact on both the private and social rented sector.

The BSB will enhance the structural and fire safety of existing and new residential buildings. Expected to come into force properly in 2023, the new legislation will introduce a system of gateways to be approved by the HSE before any residential development can go ahead.  

For private and social landlords, the changes mean they will have to demonstrate and evidence compliance with the BSB. This will impact finances and require an initial investment of time and money from landlords to ensure that they are compliant with the requirements of the BSB.  

The BSB will introduce wide-ranging changes to building safety laws, including a new regulator that will have the power to impose sanctions on landlords who are found to be in breach of the safety standards.  The new set of safety measures is part of the government’s response to the ‘Building a Safer Future Consultation’ following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire.   

What are dedicated duty holders? 

Following on from the findings of the Hackitt review, the BSB will require organisations to have dedicated duty holders who will be responsible for the safety risks in buildings.  Duty holders will be required to create and maintain a safety case for each building containing all the relevant information relating to the building and its safety. 

The aim is that a simplification of the management of information will ensure that there is a ‘golden thread’ system whereby information relating to buildings will be created, stored, tracked and updated throughout the lifecycle of the building, from development to occupation and beyond.  

Building owners will also have a duty to take reasonable steps to meet the costs of remediation works before passing the costs on to tenants.

How do you measure building safety?

The new standard will take a risk-based and proportionate approach to safety risks and remediation.  The measures include:

  • Creating a new building safety regulator to monitor compliance and take enforcement action on breach of the rules
  • Ensuring those with responsibility for the design, build, safety, and occupation of residential high-rise buildings are identified and take ownership 
  • Empowering residents and giving them appropriate avenues and platforms to raise concerns about the safety of buildings they reside in
  • Extending the rights to compensation for poor workmanship and defects 
  • Facilitating an overhaul of the social and private landlord sectors to ensure that a culture of change is introduced that ensures the design, construction, and management of residential buildings is safe and compliant

What are the three gateway points? 

According to the government, there will be three gateway points at which the owner of the building must demonstrate and evidence compliance during the design and build of a high-rise.  

  1. Gateway 1 will occur during the planning process and will require owners to consider and provide fire safety information and a fire statement.
  2. Gateway 2 will take place before construction works commence. The designated building safety regulator will need to provide building control approval once they are satisfied that the design and build proposals, and information/reporting management systems are compliant with the new regime.
  3. Gateway 3 will occur before the building is occupied.  At this point, the owner must submit an application to the regulator who will assess the information supplied for compliance and will undertake inspections before issuing a completion certificate. 

The first gateway will be introduced from 1 August 2021 by way of some amendments to the existing Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015.  Gateway one relates to planning permission obtained for the relevant buildings.  The new rules state that the HSE will take on the role of a statutory consultee when relevant planning applications are made.  

What impact will the Building Safety Bill have on the private and social rented sector?

Whilst the BSB is deemed to be a pivotal moment in UK construction history, the industry is steeling itself to ensure that it can embrace and put in place the far-reaching reforms proposed.  According to the Construction Industry Council, the industry needs to prepare itself to be fully aware of the changes, the actions that need to be taken, and the consequences of non-compliance. 

How will the Building Safety Bill impact those in the private and social rented sector?

  • Financially – the new rules will require financial investment 
  • Technologically – enhanced technology will be essential for the mapping, monitoring, and information storing required under the new regime
  • Accountability – historic holes in safety information in the past have placed residents are risk and the new rules will require duty holders to take responsibility to preserve and maintain safety information for residents
  • Responsibility – owners, directors of companies, and managers will be responsible for the safety of buildings and will be personally liable for failings.  New criminal offences will be created with tough sanctions for breaches

The ‘Golden Thread of Information’ – Will technology boost compliance?

One of the key components of the new standard is the golden thread of information that will be key to tracking and evidencing compliance.  The idea of ‘the golden thread’ of information is that important safety information relating to the business will be created and preserved from the moment the owners begin the design.  

Proper due diligence will be required and this will require digital platforms that can create, store and update information quickly and comprehensively.  Duty holders will be responsible for ensuring that information is accurate, up to date, and stored electronically.  Stakeholders should already be taking proactive action to ensure they are digitally and technologically prepared for the responsibilities required of them.  The announcement that the BSB  will become legislation should remove any lingering doubts or questions about whether electronic storage of information will be required – it will and it must. 

Plentific’s simple software solution will ensure that organisations have access to a smart property management program with the aim of ensuring enhanced compliance.  Plentific’s Compliance Manager suite provides real-time transparency across critical areas of compliance, providing insights, data, and assurance required to meet the new standards. To learn how we work with landlords of all sizes to achieve this, book a free, fast demo of our platform today.