News & Insights

The Higher Risk Building Regime

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The higher risk building (“HRB”) regime is a key component of the Building Safety Act 2022 (“BSA”).

Found within parts 3 and 4 BSA, the regime introduces various reforms to building control and regulatory processes in respect of buildings that:

  1. Are at least 18 metres in height; or
  2. Have at least seven storeys; and
  3. Contain at least two residential units.

Therefore, residential / mixed-use buildings of at least 18 metres or seven stories (such height apparently being where firefighting equipment is able to reach from the ground) are now subject to stringent procedures both during the design and construction of the HRB and also whilst it is occupied. Those that should look to be up to speed with the HRB regime will therefore include developers, contractors and designers carrying out construction works in addition to landlords, management companies and leaseholders.

One feature of the HRB regime is the requirement to obtain approval from the Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) at three gateway points during the design and construction process of an HRB. As it stands, only the requirement relating to the first gateway i.e., the planning application stage is in force. The rest of the gateways are referred to as stop / go decision points and must be approved by the HSE before the construction of the development can proceed. These are not expected to be brought into force until around summer 2023 or later.

Another aspect of the HRB regime is the creation of new responsibilities for landlords, management companies, RTMs, RMCs etc in respect of the management of “building safety risks”. The introduction of the requirement to appoint an “Accountable Person” (“AP”) and a “Principal Accountable Person” (“PAP”) for HRBs has understandably been a point which has already attracted much interest. Building owners and parties with repairing obligations in respect of the common parts of an HRB will qualify as the AP and, in addition to complying with mandatory reporting and provision of information requirements, will have a duty to:

  1. Assess all building safety risks (i.e. the spread of fire or structural failure) in an occupied higher risk building at regular intervals and where there is a concern that the current assessment is no longer valid;
  2. Prevent a building safety risk from materialising;
  3. Reduce the severity of an incident if one happens.

Notably, the building owner will not be an AP where all repairing obligations relating to the common parts are functions of an RTM Company.

Where there is one AP for a HRB, they will also qualify as the PAP and where there is more than one AP, one will be recognised as the PAP to ensure that there is a clear allocation of primary responsibility for compliance of the statutory duties. The PAP is said to be either the building owner or the party with a repairing obligation in relation to the structure and exterior of the building and is responsible for:

  1. Registering all new HRBs by October 2023;
  2. Applying for a building assessment certificate when directed by the Building Safety Regulator
  3. Displaying various building safety information in the HRB
  4. Preparing a safety case report confirming that APs have assessed all building safety risks
  5. Preparing a residents engagement strategy

The HRB regime is extensive and there is much to consider in addition to what is set out above. Given that a breach of the duties of the AP / PAP may attract criminal sanctions, we would urge our clients to ensure that they are aware as to the extent of their responsibilities.

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