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  • Writer's pictureWill Gage

How Does the Building Safety Act Impact Governance?

The Building Safety Act has ushered in significant changes aimed at enhancing the safety standards of buildings across the UK. Businesses involved in developing, managing, or owning ‘at risk’ buildings (those with multiple dwellings and over six storeys or 18m) must now keep accurate records to comply with the new legislation. Why is this important? The stakes are high. Non-compliance could result in hefty fines or even imprisonment. Understanding the Building Safety Act and its implications is crucial for anyone involved with ‘at risk’ buildings. Let’s delve into the details.


Building Safety and Governance

1. Understanding the Building Safety Act


1.1 What is the Building Safety Act?


The Building Safety Act 2022 is a comprehensive piece of legislation designed to overhaul building safety regulations in the UK. It was introduced in response to heightened concerns about building safety following incidents such as the Grenfell Tower fire. The Act focuses on several key areas: enhanced accountability, stricter regulations, and a new regulatory framework to ensure the safety of residents.


Enhanced accountability: Building owners are required to manage safety risks, with clear lines of responsibility during the design, construction, completion, and occupation of high-rise buildings. The Act specifically targets building structural safety and fire safety.


Stricter regulations: The Act mandates a ‘golden thread of information’, ensuring safety is considered at every stage of a building’s lifecycle, starting from the planning process (Gateway 1).


New regulatory framework: Building owners must demonstrate they have effective, proportionate measures in place to manage safety risks and must register their high-risk buildings. Incidents need to be reported to the Building Safety Regulator, which is part of the HSE. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 has been amended to enforce tougher sanctions for non-compliance. Non-compliance could lead to criminal charges.


In essence, the Building Safety Act shifts a significant amount of responsibility onto building owners and managers, necessitating a robust approach to compliance and safety.


1.2 How Does the Act Affect Real Estate Governance?


The Building Safety Act fundamentally changes governance in the real estate sector. You’ll need to re-evaluate your governance structures to meet the new requirements. Here’s a closer look at how this affects your daily operations:


Mandated building safety roles: The roles of the Accountable Person (AP) and Principal Accountable Person (PAP) have been introduced for residential higher-risk buildings (HRBs). These roles involve the organisation or individual responsible for the building, including maintaining common areas like corridors and lobbies. The AP/PAP must take all reasonable steps to:


  • Prevent a building safety risk, defined as the spread of fire and/or structural failure.

  • Mitigate the severity of an incident if one occurs.


Golden Thread of Information: You must maintain a digital record of safety information throughout the building's lifecycle. This 'Golden Thread' is crucial for transparency and accountability. The key principles are that the Golden Thread is;


  • Kept digitally

  • Kept securely

  • A building’s single source of truth

  • Available to those who need the information to do their job

  • Available when needed

  • Presented in an easily usable format

  • Each golden thread is unique and specific to the building and its residents.


Regulatory compliance checks and duties: The Building Safety Regulator is now the Building Control Authority for higher-risk buildings in England. Principal Designers, Principal Contractors, and anyone involved in design or building work must be competent for their roles. Organisations must demonstrate the capability, competence, and capacity to fulfil their obligations. These duties apply to all building work, including small domestic projects, not just HRBs.


These changes require a robust system for tracking and managing documentation and proof of competence. Proactively identifying potential safety issues and ensuring all measures meet the new standards is essential.


Pro-tip: Utilise tools like Building Passport to store, organise, and share building information securely, ensuring compliance with legislative requirements.


1.3 What are the implications of not complying with the act?


Failing to comply with the Building Safety Act can lead to severe consequences. The immediate risk is legal action. Building owners and managers could face significant fines or imprisonment for neglecting required safety standards.


Financial penalties: Non-compliance can result in substantial fines, straining your organisation’s finances.


Reputational damage: Your reputation could suffer, making it challenging to attract and retain tenants or buyers.


Personal liability: You could be personally liable for failing to ensure compliance, potentially leading to imprisonment.


Additionally, non-compliance can result in substantial claims if safety lapses cause accidents or incidents. According to a recent study by Safety and Health Practitioner, the cost of non-compliance can exceed tens of millions of pounds, including direct fines and indirect costs such as litigation and compensation.


Pro-tip: Regularly review and update safety measures and documentation to ensure ongoing compliance and avoid severe repercussions.


By understanding these aspects of the Building Safety Act, you can better navigate its requirements and integrate compliance seamlessly into your real estate governance.


2. The Act's Implications for Stakeholders


2.1 Impact on Building Owners and Managers


The Building Safety Act places significant accountability on organisations that own or manage properties. As someone responsible for governance, you must ensure compliance with stringent safety regulations. This includes maintaining up-to-date and accurate records of all building-related information to ensure the safety of residents and prevent catastrophic incidents. Failure to comply can lead to severe penalties, including fines or imprisonment. Missing vital safety documentation during an inspection or after an incident could result in significant legal and financial consequences.


The Act necessitates a streamlined approach to managing building information. Using tools like Building Passport, you can centralise and organise your Golden Thread of critical safety information, ensuring it aligns with the legislation.


Pro-tip: Implement Building Passport to manage your building data efficiently and ensure compliance with the Building Safety Act.


2.2 Influence on Professionals: Architects, Engineers, and Contractors


For architects, engineers, and contractors, the Building Safety Act heightens the importance of precise documentation, record-keeping, and transparent communication. Accurate record-keeping has never been more critical. Any lapses can lead to substantial professional liability, impacting your reputation and future contracts.


Access to accurate building information is crucial for professionals involved in construction and maintenance. Building Passport can significantly reduce the administrative burden by providing a centralised platform to store, manage, and share information. This ensures that architects, engineers, and contractors have quick access to necessary documents, speeding up project timelines and reducing costs.


Pro-tip: Use Building Passport to keep all your project documentation in one place, improving efficiency and collaboration with other stakeholders.


2.3 Benefits for Homeowners and Residents


Homeowners and residents benefit greatly from the Building Safety Act, which aims to increase the transparency and availability of building information. Having access to detailed records about your building's safety measures, structural details, and ongoing maintenance work provides peace of mind. The Act ensures that building owners and managers maintain such records meticulously, promoting a safe living environment.


Tools like Building Passport enable you to quickly access vital information about your residence. Whether you need details about fire safety systems or maintenance records that have been shared with you, Building Passport provides a reliable way to find this information. This access enhances your confidence in the building’s safety and can be a significant advantage if you decide to sell your property.


Pro-tip: Encourage your building managers to use Building Passport so you can effortlessly access important building safety information when needed.


3. How Can Building Passport Help?


3.1 Ensuring Your Information is Securely Stored, Forever


Maintaining comprehensive and accurate building records is crucial under the Building Safety Act. As a senior leader in the real estate sector, you must ensure all relevant documentation is consistently updated and easily accessible. Neglecting this can lead to severe consequences, including legal action and expensive claims. Building Passport can be a reliable ally.


Key aspects include:


  • Secure storage: All information is stored in one place.

  • Permanency: Records are maintained indefinitely.

  • Accessibility: Authorised professionals can easily access necessary data.


Having a Building Passport ensures control and visibility over your building details, significantly reducing the risk of non-compliance.


3.2 Manage Access to Key Information


Effectively managing who can access your building's critical information is essential. The Building Safety Act mandates that accurate data must be available to those who need it, when they need it. Building Passport simplifies this process by allowing dynamic control over access permissions, which is crucial for firms with multiple stakeholders, from building managers to safety inspectors.


Features include:


  • Role-based access: Assign specific access levels based on the user's role.

  • Secure sharing: Safely share information with external parties.

  • Real-time updates: Keep everyone informed with the latest data.


This ensures stakeholders only access information pertinent to their roles, safeguarding sensitive data and optimising compliance-related workflows.


Pro-tip: Regularly review and update access permissions to reflect changes in roles or stakeholders.


3.3 Track Compliance Gaps Across Your Portfolio


The Building Safety Act emphasises continuous compliance. Identifying and addressing compliance gaps across your portfolio proactively is essential. Building Passport offers solutions to track and manage these gaps efficiently. By consolidating all your compliance data in one place, you can quickly identify areas needing attention and take corrective action, reducing potential legal risks.


Advantages include:


  • Unified dashboard: View all compliance statuses in one place.

  • Automated reminders: Receive alerts for upcoming compliance deadlines.

  • Detailed reports: Generate reports to assess compliance status.


Need to streamline and ensure the accuracy of your building records? Book a demo here to see how Building Passport can assist you in complying with the Building Safety Act.


Ensuring compliance with the Building Safety Act is crucial for anyone with governance responsibility for buildings. By utilising tools like Building Passport, you can streamline record-keeping processes and manage data access effectively, ultimately safeguarding against legal risks and ensuring the safety of all building occupants.

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