Owners of higher risk buildings in England face registration requirements
Published on 26th Apr 2023
New obligation to register with Building Safety Regulator: 30 September deadline for existing buildings
The new building safety regime established by the Building Safety Act 2022 means that most existing buildings of seven storeys or more (or 18+ metres) with two or more occupied residential units will be required to be registered with a new Building Safety Regulator by 30 September 2023.
Requirement to identify a Principal Accountable Person
It is necessary to identify who is responsible for the structure, the exterior and the common parts of these higher-risk buildings.
Where there is just one such person, usually, the owner of the building, that person will be the Principal Accountable Person.
In some situations, there may be different people with these responsibilities in relation to the same building. In that case, each of these people will be an Accountable Person and the person responsible for the structure of the building and the external walls will be the Principal Accountable Person.
Duty to register existing high-risk buildings
The Principal Accountable Person should apply to register any existing high-risk building with the Building Safety Regulator by 30 September 2023. Information about the building will need to be provided including the date of construction and number of residential units. This application can be made here and requires payment of £251 per building.
Once the building is registered, Key Building Information (see below) will be requested by the Building Safety Regulator. The timescale by which this must be provided for existing buildings is not yet clear but it is sensible for Principal Accountable Persons to start pulling together all relevant information as soon as possible.
It is important to note that the duties for the Principal Accountable Person are ongoing throughout the lifetime of the building.
Duty to register new high-risk buildings
Any new high-risk building may not be occupied until a Principal Accountable Person has registered the building with the Building Safety Regulator. If this requirement is breached, an offence is committed by the Principal Accountable Person carrying a risk of imprisonment and/or a fine.
Following registration of a new building, there is a window of 28 days to submit Key Building Information.
This requires significant detail about the building including the type of energy storage system, the construction materials used and smoke monitoring equipment.
The Principal Accountable Person is under an ongoing duty to manage and report on safety, liaise with Accountable Persons where applicable, engage with residents and keep the Building Safety Regulator up to date. The Building Safety Act imposes various specific duties which are outside the scope of this Insight.
Accountable Persons are under a duty to manage building safety risk in relation to those common parts of the building for which they are responsible and to engage with the Principal Accountable Person as appropriate.
It is possible for the Principal Accountable Person and Accountable Persons to use a managing agent to assist them with their duties but ultimate responsibility rests with the Principal Accountable Person or Accountable Person.
The requirements do not currently apply to hotels, care homes, hospitals, secure residential institutions or military barracks. These buildings are subject to their own regulatory requirements and are considered to have higher levels of fire safety precautions in place.
The seven storeys are counted from the ground level up and exclude any storey containing only plant or machinery.
Osborne Clarke comment
This new duty will affect around 12,500 buildings in England, including some mixed use real estate. It is important that owners and managers assess whether their buildings could be affected and if so, fully understand and comply with their duties.
Osborne Clarke can help you navigate the changing regulatory landscape and help you ensure compliance