The government claims its new Building Safety Bill, published yesterday, will create “lasting generational change” after Grenfell and the cladding crisis - but will it help landlords caught up in the cladding crisis, with homes they cannot sell?
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick says the Bill is the next key step in an extensive overhaul to building safety legislation, giving owners more power to hold builders and developers to account and toughening sanctions against those who threaten their safety.
In the Bill, a Building Safety Regulator will oversee the new regime and will be responsible for ensuring that any building safety risks in new and existing high rise residential buildings of 18m and above are effectively managed and resolved, taking cost into account.
This will include implementing specific gateway points at design, construction and completion phases to ensure that safety is considered at each and every stage of a building’s construction, and safety risks are considered at the earliest stage of the planning process.
Jenrick comments: “The new building safety regime will be a proportionate one, ensuring those buildings requiring remediation are brought to an acceptable standard of safety swiftly, and reassuring the vast majority of residents and leaseholders in those buildings that their homes are safe.”
The reforms follow Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, which highlighted a need for significant cultural and regulatory change.
Under the proposals, the government is more than doubling the amount of time -from six to 15 years - that residents can seek compensation for substandard construction work.
The changes will apply retrospectively. This means that residents of a building completed in 2010 would be able to bring proceedings against the developer until 2025.
Other measures include ensuring there are clearly identified people responsible for safety during the design, build and occupation of a high-rise residential building; establishing a Building Safety Regulator to hold to account those who break the rules and are not properly managing building safety risks, including taking enforcement action where needed; giving residents in these buildings more routes to raise concerns about safety, and mechanisms to ensure their concerns will be heard and taken seriously; and extending rights to compensation for substandard workmanship and unacceptable defects.
The Bill will include powers to strengthen the regulatory framework for construction products, underpinned by a market surveillance and enforcement regime led nationally by the Office for Product Safety and Standards.
The national regulator will be able to remove products from the market that present safety risks and prosecute or use civil penalties against any business that breaks the rules and compromises public safety.
The Bill also contains measures to protect leaseholders by providing a legal requirement for building owners to explore alternative ways to meet remediation costs before passing these onto leaseholders, along with evidence that this has been done.
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