‘Ground-breaking’ Building Safety Bill enters Parliament

The Building Safety Bill, hailed as the “the next step in ground-breaking reforms to give residents and homeowners more rights, powers and protections to making homes across the country safer,” has entered Parliament on its way to becoming law.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is targeting the construction industry with the new legislation, formulated in the wake of the Grenfell disaster. It said the law “overhauls regulations, setting out a clear pathway on how residential buildings should be constructed,  maintained and made safe.”

It also sets out the framework for the industry to improve compliance, with tougher penalties for those who break the rules, and compels developers to join a New Homes Ombudsman scheme.

Residents in high-rise buildings will have more say in the management of their building under the proposals, being able to “raise building safety concerns directly to the owners and managers of buildings, who will have a duty to listen to them.” If they feel their concerns are “ignored,” they can raise them with the Building Safety Regulator.

In addition, the period during which homeowners including leaseholders can claim against sub-standard construction work will be increased six to 15 years, which will apply retrospectively. This will mean that, properties built up to 15 years prior to the law coming into effect will be able to bring a claim for compensation.

Building owners will be “required to manage safety risks, with clear lines of responsibility for safety during design, construction, completion and occupation of high-rise buildings.” The Ministry will “require a golden thread of information, with safety considered at every stage of a building’s lifetime – including during the earliest stage of the planning process.”

Building owners will need to demonstrate that they have “effective, proportionate measures in place to manage safety risks,” otherwise may face criminal charges.

The Bill has been created to provide a “clear, proportionate framework for the design, construction and management of safer homes.”

It will also strengthen the construction products regulatory regime, bringing in “new requirements to make sure more products are safe,” while “paving the way for a National Regulator for Construction Products to oversee and enforce rules.”

A new developer tax plus a further levy on developers are also being introduced “to ensure that the industry makes a contribution to setting things right.”