Building Safety Act now in force

Building Safety Act now in force 2022

The Building Safety Act, which overhauls building safety regulation after the Grenfell Tower fire, came into effect on 28th April 2022 and includes some changes that apply to all new building work.

The new Act introduces new measures designed to make buildings safer and better protect residents.

Updated fire safety laws will place additional responsibilities on ‘responsible persons’ and a Homes Ombudsman Scheme will help home buyers make complaints about developers. A new Building Safety Regulator will enforce the more stringent regulations on buildings of 18m and higher, and will also oversee safety and standards in all buildings, regardless of height.

There are measures within the Act to protect leaseholders from remediation costs, by introducing redress schemes designed to make those responsible – contractors and developers – foot the bill for building safety work. This follows Michael Gove’s intervention earlier in the year, in which he questioned the practice of home owners being forced to foot the bill to remediate defective buildings.

House builders have agreed to remediate buildings for which they are responsible, including those built as part of section 106 agreements. However, it is not thought that buildings constructed through design and build contracts will be included, and could result in housing associations, for instance, paying for remedial work before claiming against the contractors actually responsible.

The Building Safety Act amends the Defective Premises Act, and increases the time limit during which building owners can claim against a contractor for defective work to 30 years for buildings built before the Act and 15 years to those built afterwards. Building owners can now also claim against organisations associated with the contractor, such as a parent company.

Refurbishment and other work to existing buildings will also be covered, and the Act requires those contractors who have worked on a building to ensure that it is fit for habitation on completion of the work.

In a change that will affect all building work, the newly formed Building Safety Regulator will oversee the safety and performance of all buildings. Formal responsibility will be placed on all those contributing to the design, construction and refurbishment of any building to ensure compliance with building regulations and the regulator will have greater powers to prosecute non-compliance.

In addition, the New Homes Ombudsman Scheme will investigate and impose sanctions, where needed, enabling owners of new homes to raise complaints.