The Building Safety Act 2022 is the result of a long period of assessment of building safety in the industry, following the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017. Its provisions will dramatically change the way in which the health and safety of our homes are dealt with in the industry.
The Building Safety Act received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 and most of the provisions will be coming into force in the following 18 months. Some provisions which have come into force so far include:
- Changing the limitation periods for claims under the Defective Premises Act 1972 and section 38 of the Building Act 1984. This now gives a claimant 30 years to bring a claim where the claim arose prior to 28th June 2022 and 15 years for claims arising after 28th June 2022.
- The right to sue and fine manufacturers of construction products (also including 15 and 30 year limitation periods).
- The introduction of building liability orders. These allow the High Court to extend specific liabilities of a company or LLP to any of its associates and make them jointly and severally liable, even if the original company has become insolvent.
- Putting the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) on a statutory footing- the BSR is a new role which sits in the Health and Safety Executive and reports to the Secretary of State. All developers will be subject to the BSR. The BSR is required to set up a Building Advisory Committee and a Resident’s Panel comprising residents of higher-risk buildings.
- The new definition of “higher risk building” (a building of 17 storeys/18 metres and over or a hospital, care home or building containing two or more residential dwellings). This definition is being refined by the draft Higher-Risk Buildings Regulations 2023, due to come into force on 6 April 2023.
The remaining provisions to come into force over the next 12-18 months include the establishment of various committees, such as the Building Advisory Committee and the Industry Competence Committee within the BSR and the requirement to hold and maintain a “golden thread” of information. The “golden thread” refers to any safety information about a higher risk building that can be updated and held electronically and passed down to subsequent parties throughout the life cycle of the building. This is to ensure that evidence of risk assessments and safety practices are well-documented and available for building owners.
Related to this, on 28 July 2022, the Building Safety Fund re-opened for new applications for eligible buildings without a funding solution in place. Applications can be made for higher risk buildings with cladding, where there is at least one qualifying resident in occupation, and where there has been a fire risk appraisal of the external wall construction. Applications must be made by the Responsible Entity, which is the organisation that has the legal obligation or right to carry out the remediation works (such as the building’s freeholder/leaseholder).
This is only intended to be a summary and not specific legal advice. If you would like further information or advice, please do contact a member of our team.