Building and fire safety legislation
The Fire Safety Act 2021 and Building Safety Act 2022
The Fire Safety Act (2021) and the Building Safety Act 2022 have introduced a range of requirements for building owners, including how we engage and involve residents in decisions around building safety.
These requirement vary according to the size and type of building. We have summarised the key requirements below and in the following section we explain the steps we are taking to meet them.
About the Building Safety Act 2022
The Building Safety Act sets out safety requirements for landlords of higher-risk buildings. These are classified as being:
- At least 18m or seven storeys high.
- With two or more residential units.
The safety rules cover the different stages of building:
- Design stage.
- Planning stage.
- Construction stage.
- Whilst tenants and leaseholders live in a building.
Full implementation of the Building Safety Act is due in October 2023, which means building owners should have their building safety regime in place by this time.
Specific requirements of the Building Safety Act
The Act requires that an accountable person is put in place for each higher-risk residential building. They will register all existing high risk buildings with the Building Safety Regulator and will prepare a safety case report which shows that they have assessed all building safety risks and taken all reasonable steps to control them.
Following on from the safety case report, they will apply for a building assessment certificate. Newlon Housing Trust is registered as the accountable person and we have appointed a Building Safety Officer, overseen by a Building Safety Manager and our Head of Building Safety, to carry out the building safety requirements for each of our taller buildings.
Displaying the building assessment certificate
Newlon is required to display the building assessment certificate once received in a prominent position in the building, along with a notice containing information about the accountable persons for the building, and any relevant compliance notices. We are required to reapply for a building assessment certificates every five years.
Resident engagement strategy
We are required to produce a resident engagement strategy and give a copy of the strategy to all residents in the building. The strategy will cover engagement and participation, complaints handling, information provision and the role of residents in helping to keep the building safe. The engagement strategy will also set out how the accountable person will create inclusive opportunities for residents to participate in decision making about safety in their building.
About the Fire Safety Act
Fire Safety Act 2021
The Fire Safety Act sets out how building owners for multi-occupied residential buildings must manage and reduce the risk of fire for the structure and external walls of the building, including cladding, balconies and windows, and entrance doors to individual flats that open into communal areas.
The regulations require building owners in multi-occupied residential buildings to take specific actions, depending on the height of the building:
- Some provisions apply regardless of height.
- More are needed once a building reaches 11 metres.
- Further requirements are introduced when a building reaches 18 metres (7 storeys) or more.
For all multi-occupied residential buildings, with two or more sets of domestic premises building owners must provide:
- Fire Safety Instructions to their residents on how to report a fire and what to do once a fire has occurred.
- Fire Door Information: provide residents with information relating to the importance of fire doors in fire safety.
Additional regulations for multi-occupied residential buildings over 11 metres in height.
- Annual and quarterly checks for fire doors: Building owners are required to carry out annual checks of the front entrance doors for each flat. They must undertake quarterly checks of all fire doors in communal areas.
Additional regulations for high-rise residential buildings (at least 18m or seven storeys in height) also require building owners to:
- Building plans: provide their local fire service with up-to-date building floor plans by electronic means and to place a hard copy of these plans, alongside a single page building plan which identifies key firefighting equipment, in a secure information box on site.
- External wall systems: provide their local fire service with information about the design and materials of a high-rise building’s external wall system and to inform the fire service of any material changes to these walls. Also, they will be required to provide information in relation to the level of risk that the design and materials of the external wall structure gives rise to and any mitigating steps taken.
- Lifts and other key fire-fighting equipment: undertake monthly checks on the operation of lifts intended for use by firefighters, and evacuation lifts in their building and check the functionality of other key pieces of firefighting equipment. They will also be required to report any defective lifts or equipment to their local fire service as soon as possible after detection if the fault cannot be fixed within 24 hours, and to record the outcome of checks and make them available to residents.
- Secure information boxes: install and maintain a secure information box in their building. This box must contain the name and contact details of the building owner and hard copies of the building floor plans.
- Wayfinding signage: install signage visible in low light or smoky conditions that identifies flat and floor numbers in the stairwells of relevant buildings.
The graphic below provides a helpful guide to the provisions of the Fire Safety Act according to a building’s height.
Additional costs and charges for residents
The requirements of the Fire Safety and Building Safety Act create a range of additional roles, responsibilities and costs for building owners.
Originally it was intended that these would be covered by a specific building safety charge which would form part of the legislation.
However, the Government removed the building safety charge from the final legislation and building owners are waiting for guidance on what costs can be charged back to residents.
As of mid-2023 we can only advise that there are likely to be some additional service charge costs for residents for example to cover the cost of additional fire door inspections.
As soon as we are clear how much these are likely to be and when they will apply from we will communicate further with our residents.