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Published 7 April 2022
The Building Safety Bill (the “Bill”) completed all stages in the House of Lords on 4th April and will return to the House of Commons with amendments for debate. There is pressure on the government to finalise the legislation.
In March 2022, the government tabled multiple amendments to the Bill, reflecting its intention that liability sits first with developers, freeholders and landlords, and that there are stronger tools to pursue those who are responsible for issues. Developers who fail to comply with the proposals may be prevented from having access to the planning system and to building control approval.
The wide-ranging amendments include:
The government has removed the legal requirement for building owners to appoint a Building Safety Manager (“BSM”). The BSM was previously considered to be a relatively central figure within the new regime and the “Golden Thread” concept, with a requirement for the Accountable Person (usually the building owner, or managing agent) for a higher-risk building to ensure that a BSM was appointed prior to it becoming occupied. There were also specified competency requirements. With the removal of the BSM role, the Accountable Person will have the day-to-day responsibility for managing the safety of a higher risk building. Further guidance for Accountable Persons will be provided by the Building Safety Regulator, to understand how to manage this additional responsibility. This may involve upskilling existing staff or hiring competent building safety managers.
The government has also scrapped the proposed building safety charge. Instead the government proposes amending the Landlord and Tenant Act to include the cost of taking building safety measures in the service charge. There have also been amendments to the proposed building safety schemes and building safety levy that appear to lay the foundations for action to be taken against those in the industry who do not commit to the government’s proposals
We are monitoring the Bill as it progresses through parliament and will be publishing regular updates.
DAC Beachcroft has a range of specialist teams which can advise on all legal issues arising out of the Bill including contractual disputes; criminal investigations by the Building Safety Regulator; drafting development agreements, collaboration agreements, build contracts and supply chain contracts; and advising on the defence of claims for damages as a result of potential breaches of professional duties.
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