The Government publish the Building Safety Bill

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Building Safety Bill 2021

The Building Safety Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 5 July 2021. 

The Bill was initially introduced in the summer of 2020, to help protect people that live in high-rise buildings.

The Government claim that the Bill will transform the way we design, build and manage buildings in the future.

What proposals does the Building Safety Bill include?

  • A new Building Safety Regulator will be created as part of the Bill. This regulatory body will oversee safety developments and help to raise standards. The Building Safety Regulator will also have enforcement powers
  • A register of building inspectors and building control approvers will be maintained. All the organisations on the register must adhere to performance standards and provide reporting
  • Buildings that are over 18 metres tall will need to provide a regularly updated portfolio (a ‘golden thread’) of information, including inspection reports and details of materials used during construction
  • All high-rise buildings must have an ‘accountable person’ who will ensure that the building safety Bill regulations are maintained
  • The period in which leaseholders can sue developers for ‘defective premises’ has been extended from six to 15 years. Refurbishment work is now also covered in this timescale

Tougher sanctions will be in place for those who break the law or are found to put residents in danger. Directors of companies responsible for safety will be held personally liable, with a maximum two-year prison sentence. 

If a building has serious failings, the Building Safety Regulator may step in to manage the building.

Controversy surrounding the Bill

People who currently live in flats pay a service charge to cover maintenance and building works. However, the Building Safety Bill initially allowed building owners to charge leaseholders for historical costs to resolve issues that may have existed before they moved in. 

After an outcry from resident organisations, it was agreed that building owners could only cover ongoing costs.

There are still concerns from leaseholders over what they could be expected to pay, especially when it comes to removing dangerous cladding. 

Many critics of the bill believe that this could cause a lot of additional expenses for people that live in high-rise buildings.

What next?

The Building Safety Bill is not law yet. 

It’s expected that it will take nine months to pass through Parliament and receive Royal Assent. After this, it will take at least 12 to 18 months for the Building Safety Regulator to be set up and new changes to be implemented.

While it passes through parliament, the Bill may be amended, so what has been proposed here may not make it into the final version of the Building Safety Act.