28 Apr 2022
The Building Safety Act received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022, and will come into effect over the next 18 months. It introduces a more stringent building safety regulatory regime, in response to the Grenfell Tower fire and Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.
In response to the act, Annie Field, CIH policy and practice officer said:
"The enhanced safety measures brought in by the Building Safety Act are critically needed and long overdue. We must do all we can to prevent another tragedy like the fire in the Grenfell Tower happening again. People living in tall tower blocks should not feel any less safe than people living in other types of housing across the country and the enhanced regulatory regime should move towards achieving that.
"However, we are concerned about some of the gaps and omissions in this Act. There seems little reason to restrict protections and funding to buildings of a certain height when unsafe building practices and materials can mean fires would spread quickly regardless of building size. The government’s promise to assess buildings under 11 metres tall on a ‘case by case’ basis will not do much to reassure residents in shorter multi-storey blocks where fire safety issues have been identified.
"We are also concerned that the Act does not guarantee sufficient protection for social landlords. Any money spent by social landlords in rectifying building safety defects that they did not create will ultimately be drawn from rental income, in effect meaning that tenants will pay. Increased spend on building safety works has already meant that many social landlords are building fewer desperately needed new affordable homes. We would urge the government to ensure that its waterfall mechanism does not leave social landlords covering costs where building developers and manufacturers fail to pay.
"Critically, this legislation does not completely protect leaseholders from having to pay to address building safety defects for which they bear no responsibility. Leaseholders are no more responsible for other safety issues than they are for unsafe cladding, so there is no justifiable rationale for allowing the costs of non-cladding remediation work to fall onto leaseholders. We applaud the additional protections which were added during the Act’s progress through parliament, but they are not sufficient to protect all leaseholders.
"CIH is committed to keeping a watching brief on this crucial issue and will continue to liaise with government. We welcome feedback from CIH members on the issues and practical problems that arise."
CIH members, make sure you look out for a more detailed what you need to know guide on the Building Safety Act which we will release next week.