Following the introduction of the Building Safety Act in April 2022, managers of high-rise residential buildings should be aware of their legal obligations in maintaining safety standards. April 2024 has been marked on calendars across the country as the deadline for the Building Safety Case and Safety Case Reports to be in place. Here we’ll explain the Act, who an “accountable person” can be, and what needs to be in place to ensure safety and compliance.

The Act 

Largely brought about by the Grenfell Tower tragedy of 2017 (in which 72 people died and 201 households were displaced), the Building Safety Act is the result of Government investigations into all aspects of building safety including unsafe external wall systems, fire safety and the necessary remedial works for high-rise dwellings in the UK. The aim of the Act is to reduce the likelihood and the severity of incidents, with a focus on fire safety and structural failure. 

The Government described the Act as:

“…ground-breaking reforms to give residents and homeowners more rights, powers, and protections…It delivers far-reaching protections for qualifying leaseholders from the costs associated with remediating historical building safety defects, and an ambitious toolkit of measures that will allow those responsible for building safety defects to be held to account.” 

What the Act Means for Building Managers 

The Act impressed many new responsibilities on building managers, aimed at facilitating better building safety. A Principal Accountable Person must now be accountable for the implementation of the Act requirements. They can be an individual, such as a freeholder, or it can be an organisation or business that works with you to fulfill the requirements. 

One of the responsibilities faced by the Principal Accountable Person is to produce and maintain a Safety Case for any “Higher-Risk Buildings” they manage.  

These are buildings that: 

High-rise apartment building against a clear blue sky on a sunny day.

  • Are over 18 meters or seven stories in height
  • Contain 2 or more residential dwellings

The safety case is a collection of information and records that demonstrates how the principal accountable person manages the risk of the spread of fire or structural failure. This will include, but is not limited to, safety management systems, resident profiles and risk assessments. 

Accountable Persons should be able to complete a Safety Case Report that “summarises the safety case for a high-rise residential building…identifying the building’s safety risks and explaining how the risks are being managed” since October 2023. 

Once the Safety Case Report has been completed, the Government will invite the Principal Accountable Person to apply for a Building Assessment Certificate (you cannot apply for one until you’ve been instructed to do so). This will involve providing a copy of your Safety Case Report to the Building Safety Regulator (the Health and Safety Executive), who will then provide you with the certificate. 

As of the 1st April 2024, the Building Safety Regulator can request a copy of your Building Assessment Certificate with just 28 days’ notice. Legal consequences will follow for any accountable persons who cannot produce the certificate on request. 

What Does a Building Safety Case Report Entail? When Should it be Updated? 

Your Safety Case Report must contain the following details: 

  • Details of the accountable and responsible persons, including contact details
  • Details of the people who have prepared the report, their qualifications and which sections they are responsible for
  • A building description including a photo or map
  • A risk assessment summary
  • A “managing risks” summary
  • A safety management system description
  • Your plan for emergencies
  • Details of any ongoing work or building improvements

You can find a full list of the report requirements here. 

The report should be updated if and when any improvement work is carried out to manage your building’s safety risks, or if any work on the building has impacted your safety risks. Any revisions should also be reported to the Building Safety Regulator who may request a full copy of the updated report. 

Building Safety Case Support: How Can We Help?

For property managers with a famously never-ending to-do list and multiple legal and moral obligations to fulfill, the new requirements could be daunting. 

Our team has been deep in thought about how we can support high rise block managers through the Building Safety Case requirements and have recently launched a support service that will assist with compiling, maintaining and sharing your safety case reports.  

Feel free to get in touch with us if this is of interest or if you’d like to discuss the new requirements in any more detail.