In our 2020 review of the year, we mentioned the upcoming launch of the Fire Safety Bill.
The bill was passed into law at the end of April 2021, officially becoming the Fire Safety Act 2021.
A history of the Bill
The Fire Safety Bill was launched in March 2020.
The UK Government introduced the Bill to ensure tragedies like the Grenfell Tower fire of 2017 never happen again, and that the safety of people living in apartment blocks is assured.
The Bill applies to England and Wales. Separate legislation is in place for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
What will the Fire Safety Act entail?
Building owners now are responsible for carrying out actions to reduce the spread of fire. They also face unlimited fines for not complying with the new Act.
The Fire Safety Order did not explicitly request that external walls and fire doors to individual flats were assessed as part of a fire risk assessment.
The Fire Safety Act has redressed this.
The act will also make it easier for the Government to pass any future legislation arising from public inquiries like the Grenfell Inquiry. From the end of June, the Government will also be able to change the type of premises that the bill applies to if required.
Does the Fire Safety Act replace the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order?
No, the Fire Safety Order is still active.
The Fire Safety Act was specifically introduced to cover individual flats in apartment blocks, while the Fire Safety Order only covered common spaces.
Is anything not covered by the Fire Safety Act?
There are some things that the Act has not approached. For example, the Act did not look into financial protection for leaseholders.
This means that leaseholders and tenants may have to pay for dangerous cladding to be removed from their building. Although it is good news that cladding is now being removed, it may mean increased service charges for tenants.
There are ongoing calls for leaseholders to receive additional financial support.
It is still early days for the Fire Safety Act, and we will keep you up to date with any new changes. We expect that there will be further regulations made over the next few months.
The Building Safety Bill is also expected to enter parliament later this year, and this will put enhanced safety regulations in place for construction projects.
It will be interesting to see if the Government address the lack of financial protection for tenants in the near future.
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