The Health and Safety Executive ("the HSE") (the national regulator for occupational health and safety) has announced that those responsible for the safety of occupied higher risk buildings ("HRBs") in England must register with the Building Safety Regulator ("BSR") by October 2023 or face onerous sanctions. Applications will open on 6 April 2023.
The Building Safety Act 2022 ("the BSA") details at s77 that the principal accountable person is responsible for registering a higher-risk building and that an offence is committed if the building is occupied but not registered.
What is a Building Safety Regulator?
The BSR was introduced in the BSA at Part 2; its role is to be an independent regulator, and according to the Government the BSR will have two main objectives:
1. securing the safety of people in and around buildings in relation to risks from buildings; and
2. improving building safety standards.
According to the HSE, there are around 12,500 buildings that fall within the definition of 'higher risk' buildings under the BSA (broadly, this is a high-rise building which is 18m (or 7 storeys) tall and has at least 2 residential units). The HSE requires all of these be registered by October 2023 with a named person who is to be responsible for the building's safety management. The HRB must be occupied for the building to require registration, and occupation is deemed to have occurred when more than one residential unit is occupied.
The HSE Chief Executive sees the registration of higher-risk buildings as 'an important step towards building a safer future for residents in high rise buildings', stating that the HSE 'want it to be clear where responsibility for the safety of these buildings lies'.
What does the Principal Accountable Person need to do?
Within 28 days of submission of an application for registration, the principal accountable person must submit prescribed information to the BSR. This obligation will similarly apply to new builds, such that the principal accountable person is obliged to register the building with the HSE before occupation.
Alongside this announcement, the Government has launched a campaign 'Making Buildings Safer', to provide key information and updates on the changes, new roles and responsibilities that the BSA has introduced. Details of the BSR and Principal Accountable Person (the entity that will ultimately register the high-risk buildings), as well as how to register a building can be found on the Government website (https://buildingsafety.campaign.gov.uk/). Principal accountable persons for HRBs should sign up to the campaign in order to receive updates and further information.
Are there sanctions for failing to register?
The penalties for breaching the registration requirements include an unlimited fine and up to two years imprisonment. It is an offence if the principal accountable person fails to register the building upon occupation and cannot provide any reasonable excuse for the building not being registered.
The Higher-Risk Buildings (Key Building Information etc.) (England) Regulations 2023 regulations ( coming into force 6th April) have now been published. These provide further, much needed, detail as to the information required by the BSR from the principal accountable person about the building as well as which parts of the building fall within their remit of responsibility.
Those who own or manage a HRB should remain alert to further changes and updates to avoid sanctions for non-compliance with the new rules and regulations.
For more information about the Building Safety Regulator, Principal Accountable Person or other Building Safety related issues please get in touch with our Building Safety Group, headed by Mark Pritchard and Bhavini Patel.