Following the Grenfell Tower Tragedy, Dame Judith Hackitt made recommendations for improvements to building regulations, in the form of the Hackitt Review. In June 2019, the government published the ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation detailing proposals to implement these changes through a new Building Safety Regulator (BSR). Just over six months later, the government announced that the BSR would be part of HSE, following independent advice from Dame Judith Hackitt. The HSE have been heavily involved throughout the process and have been advisors to the Government and Dame Judith on the Building a Safety Future Consultation.

The Building Safety Bill, a reform to building safety law, is the foundation for these changes.  Once law, The Building Safety Bill will establish a BSR that will enforce a new, more stringent regulatory regime for high-rise buildings in scope. Though the Building Safety Bill is still making its way through Parliament, this article will explore further the role of the BSR and how it will operate in the new regime.

What do we know about the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) so far?

The role of the BSR is to be the regulator of high rise buildings (7 storeys or 18m and above) in England. The BSR will work with other control bodies and will provide a solid regime throughout the lifecycle of the building. The new regulatory process will introduce decision points whilst a building is being planned, designed and built, and when occupied. The BSR will be responsible for assessing, at each stage, whether the dutyholder is considering building safety and meeting building regulations.

Those responsible for the safety of buildings will maintain a golden thread of information to identify and mitigate building safety risk throughout a building’s lifecycle.

What is the Golden Thread of Information?

The Golden Thread of information is a concept derived from the Hackitt Review and refers to the information about a building throughout its life cycle. It is a digital record of everything associated with the building and its purpose is to ensure or prove that a building was compliant with applicable building regulations from construction right the way through to completion, and including any refurbishment.

Many people (such as building managers, architects, contractors etc.) will need to access the golden thread to update and share information throughout a building’s lifecycle, therefore, the information must be reviewed regularly and managed well.

Information from the golden thread will need to be shared by the Accountable Person to relevant people, including residents and emergency responders.

What does this mean for managing agents and landlords?

As a landlord or appointed agent, your role is likely to be that of an Accountable Person. Accordingly, you will have legal requirements for ensuring that the fire and structural safety of a building is properly managed.

Resident engagement is an extremely important aspect of the new regime as it was highlighted by Dame Judith that residents did not have a large enough voice in the management of their buildings.

As such, the new regime requires those responsible for managing higher-risk buildings to engage with residents. You must ensure that residents are informed about and involved with decisions that concern the safety of their building.

The Accountable Person (AP) is required to produce a Residents’ Engagement Strategy in order to promote resident involvement in decision-making (in relation to fire and structural risks of their blocks). The AP will also need to establish a complaints system that ensures residents’ safety concerns are dealt with.

When the Bill does become law, the BSR will be at the heart of the new regime and HSE will be carrying out this very vital role. The BSR is already operating in shadow form and is expected to be operating at full capacity within 12-18 months from the Bill receiving Royal Assent; with the Resident’s Panel being launched prior to this.