Draft Building Safety Bill Expected to Come Into Force

The draft Building Safety Bill is expected to come into force in the Autumn of 2021 and will apply to all higher-risk buildings, which includes new multi-occupied residential buildings over 18 metres, or more than six storeys above the ground level in height.

The bill creates a new statutory role – ‘the accountable person’ who will be responsible for repairing the common areas of any higher-risk building, assessing building safety risks, appointing a building safety manager and preparing and implementing a resident engagement strategy. The bill also creates a new regulator who will ensure that the accountable person is carrying out their duties in accordance with the new legislation.

Under the new legislation, the landlord will be able to recover costs associated with performing its obligations from the tenant under a separate service charge heading called ‘building safety charges’.

Amongst other things, the draft legislation requires the landlord to:

  • Prepare and serve a building safety budget (distinct from existing service charge budgets), prior to demanding building safety charges;
  • Prepare and serve an additional budget if additional costs are to be demanded from the tenants (demands cannot be served more than once in any three-month period);
  • Hold any sums received from tenants in respect of building safety charges in a designated account on trust to pay for the work; and
  • Prepare reconciliation accounts within 28 days of the end of the relevant service charge accounting period, providing details of the works carried out and the cost, along with information about sums remaining in the account.

The bill introduces an implied covenant into long residential leases of high risk buildings, requiring the landlord (if it is the accountable person), to carry out the prescribed building safety measures, cooperate with other accountable persons and to apply for any available grants or financial support in respect of the cost of complying with the measures in the bill. The draft bill also introduces an implied covenant that the tenant will allow the landlord access for the purpose of inspecting the safety measures, and that it the tenant will also pay within 28 days of demand the building safety charges.

If you would like to discuss how the proposed legislation may affect you, please do hesitate to contact a member of the team below.

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