12 April 2023
The new Building Safety Regulator (BSR) under the Building Safety Act (BSA) has now opened its registers for the registration of existing higher-risk buildings. Those responsible for existing higher-risk buildings are urged to register their buildings in scope before 1 October 2023. This is expected to apply to upwards of 13,000 existing buildings.
Higher-risk buildings requiring registration are those occupied higher-risk buildings in England which are defined in the BSA (section 65) as a building in England which is at least 18 metres in height or has at least 7 storeys, and which contains at least 2 residential units. The Higher-Risk Buildings (Descriptions and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations 2023, which are to be read alongside the BSA, confirm that care homes, hospitals, secure residential institutions, hotels and military barracks are excluded from the definition of higher-risk buildings for buildings in occupation.
Under the BSA, the Principal Accountable Person (PAP) will be responsible for registration. The PAP will be able to designate managing agents to assist with the registration process, but responsibility for the application and the accuracy of the information will remain with the PAP.
The PAP will be Accountable Person who holds the legal estate in possession of the common parts or who is under a repairing obligation. This will usually be the landlord or superior landlord. If there is more than one such person, the PAP is the person who holds a legal estate in possession of the structure and exterior of the building, or has the repairing obligation for the structure and exterior of the building.
The Building Safety (Registration of Higher-Risk Buildings and Review of Decisions) (England) Regulations 2023 set out the process for registration and requirements on the PAP and the BSR to keep the register up to date. They also confirm that the fee for registration will be £251 per higher-risk building to be registered.
The registration information to be provided includes:
The PAP will need to provide a UK address. The PAP will also be required to notify the BSR of any changes to the registration information within 14 days of becoming aware of any changes.
The registration process is expected to be completed on line which can be accessed via this link.
Guidance to support the PAP in accessing the required building control information is promised. This will include guidance about what information regarding completion certificates is required where existing buildings have become higher-risk buildings due to change of use, and where additional floors have been added. It will also cover what to do in situations when the required building control information is unavailable.
Separately, the PAP will need to submit key building information to the BSR. This is to be provided in electronic form within 28 days of the application for registration of a higher-risk building, as set out in The Higher-Risk Buildings (Key Building Information etc.) (England) Regulations 2023.
The key building information includes:
Further guidance about the information is promised.
The key building information will enable the BSR (once buildings are registered) to prioritise which buildings, based on height and other risk factors, will be "called-in" to apply for a building assessment certificate and in which order. This certificate is intended to provide an indication to residents that the BSR has assessed that the PAP has met the statutory requirements at the time of assessment.
The BSR have indicated that they will broadcast its messaging through marketing campaigns and e-bulletins to ensure that PAPs are aware of the new regulations. For example, the BSR campaign. "Making Building Safer" is aimed at owners and managers of existing higher-risk buildings urging them to make sure that existing buildings are registered.
PAPs would be well advised to:
Section 77 of the BSA provides that it is a criminal offence if a higher-risk building is occupied but not registered. This section is not yet in force, but it would seem likely that this section will be commenced on 1 October 2023 by the issue of further regulations to match the BSR's deadline.
The latest indications are that 1 October 2023 is the date that the new regulatory regime for higher-risk buildings is intended to come into force, subject to transitional provisions. However, this date has yet to be confirmed and we have yet to see the final details of the transitional arrangements. The outcome of the Consultation on the new regulatory regime for higher-risk buildings (which closed in October 2022) which is expected any day should provide clarity on this. Secondary legislation providing the detail of the new regulatory regime is also still awaited.
We expect to see further regulation and guidance in the coming weeks and we will then provide further updates.