24 July 2023

The Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA) was granted Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 and the majority of the provisions from the Act came into force on 28 June 2022. The BSA makes reforms to provide residents and homeowners further rights, powers and protections so that their homes are safer following the Grenfell disaster in 2017.

The BSA has overhauled regulations which were previously in place so that there is now a clear understanding of how buildings should be constructed, maintained and made safe. Previously, The Defective Premises Act 1972 (DPA) provided that there could be a claim made against the person responsible for defects in a new dwelling and stated that there was a 6 year limitation period in relation to rectification works that had to be carried out. The new provisions in the BSA provide for a 30 year limitation period for works completed before the commencement date and for work after commencement date of the new provisions there will be a 15 year limitation period. If the company responsible for the defect no longer exists then the High Court can provide for a Building Liability Order whereby companies within the group such as associated companies may be liable.

The BSA affords protection for qualifying leaseholders from the costs associated with remedying historical building safety defects and ensures that those responsible for building safety defects to be held to account. This removes the idea that leaseholders should be responsible to pay for historical safety defects themselves. Qualifying leaseholders include those living in their own homes and with no more than three UK properties owned in total. Building owners will not legally be able to charge qualifying leaseholders for any costs in circumstances where a high rise building over five storeys or eleven metres tall, requires cladding to be removed or remediated. These changes have been introduced as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire which led to various changes in the law in respect of cladding. Qualifying leaseholders will also have protections from the costs associated with non-cladding defects.

The BSA has also introduced the new Building Safety Regulator who will be a part of the Health and Safety Executive. The Health and Safety Executive will supervise the safety and performance of all buildings. In particular, they concentrate on high-risk high-rise buildings. In England a high-risk residential building is one with at least 2 dwellings which is at 18 metres or more in height or, if less than 18 metres, has 7 or more storeys. A building of this size must have a designated accountable person who owns the common parts or is responsible for repair of the common parts. This includes Right to Manage Companies and Residents Management Companies. There must be a residents panel and an accountable person who must listen to health and safety complaints, produce reports to the Regulator and keep records in relation to health and safety and report any fire safety or structural safety problems that have occurred. Any charges involved in this will be included in service charge costs.

Battens can assist with the purchase of leasehold flats, however those contained within high rise buildings may be advised to seek further specialist advice in this area.

Contact Emma Taylor on 01935 846205