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Landlord Building Safety responsibilities laid out

‘Landlords’ are to be included in the statutory definition of ‘Accountable Persons for occupied higher-risk buildings’ contained in the Government’s Building Safety Bill.

This is made clear in a raft of updated factsheets published this week and adding detail to outline legislation published in 2020.

The Bill, arising as part of the official response to the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy, will apply to buildings that are at least 18 metres in height or have at least seven storeys, and have at least two residential units. It is being put in place to provide ‘a strengthened regulatory regime for high-rise and other in-scope buildings (higher-risk buildings), improving accountability, risk-management and assurance’.

All occupied higher-risk buildings will be required to have at least one clearly identifiable Accountable Person, known as the Principal Accountable Person, who will be responsible for ensuring that fire and structural safety is being properly managed for the whole building.

Accountable Persons will have statutory obligations to:

  • Comply with the safety case and mandatory occurrence reporting requirements;
  • Conduct an assessment of fire and structural safety risks for areas of responsibility;
  • Prepare and keep under review a Residents’ Engagement Strategy;
  • Provide residents with relevant safety information about the building;
  • Keep and update prescribed information about the building; and
  • Take all reasonable steps to prevent a major incident occurring (a major incident being defined as leading to a significant number of deaths or serious injury to a significant number of people) because of a building safety risk materialising and to reduce the severity of the incident.

There will also be sanctions available to the Building Safety Regulator should an Accountable Person fail in their duties. These include compliance notices, criminal prosecutions and in extreme cases, on application to the First-tier Tribunal, placing the building into Special Measures and ensuring safety obligations are met for the building.

The total number of high-rise residential multi-occupied residential buildings of 18 metres or more in height, or at least seven storeys (whichever is reached first) in England is estimated as of April 2020 to be approximately 12,500.