Although the regulations directly affect developers, freeholders and head landlords of leasehold properties, agents who provide residential management services may also have additional duties as an Accountable Person.
The Building Safety Act 2022 aims to provide more rights, powers and protections for residents of high-risk buildings and reduce the chance of death in the event a fire breaks out. The Act establishes specific duties for individuals within high-risk buildings to manage building safety risks.
Regulations coming into force on 1 October 2023
The Building Regulations etc. (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2023 are aimed at construction companies to ensure that all those involved understand the regulations and can confirm their competence.
The Building (Higher-Risk Buildings Procedures) (England) Regulations 2023 relate to the processes that owners and people conducting the building works must follow. However, there are elements around record keeping and maintaining a central source of information related to building safety and works that can be managed by someone on behalf of the client, which would imply a managing agent.
The Building Safety Act 2022 (Consequential Amendments etc.) Regulations 2023 is a technical piece of legislation that lists changes to previous Acts based on the changes introduced by the Building Safety Act 2022.
The Higher-Risk Buildings (Management of Safety Risks etc) (England) Regulations 2023 enactment date has yet to be set. This legislation provides more detail about the tasks Accountable Persons (APs) and Principal Accountable Persons (PAPs) are required to complete under Part 4 of the Building Safety Act 2022.
There are three main scenarios where it is important for agents to understand the rules and responsibilities of APs.
- If an agent is responsible for repairing any communal areas of a high-risk building – including the structure and exterior, staircases, corridors, or lobbies – they are an AP and must be aware of their legal duties.
- If an agent is managing a rented property within a high-risk building, they will need to liaise with the AP to ensure the tenants are provided with the correct fire safety information and will also have a role in supporting the AP in their duties i.e., by providing required information.
- If an agent is involved in the purchase of a leasehold property within a high-risk building, they will be required to share key property information with other stakeholders, such as details about the construction of the building and any remediation works that have been carried out.
Duties of agents who are also APs
A building can have more than one AP, and each one may be responsible for different parts of the building. Agents who are unclear if they are considered an AP can apply to the First-tier Tribunal for a decision.
APs are responsible for assessing and managing risks to people in and around the building from structural failure or the spread of fire. To do this they must:
- put measures in place to prevent building safety risks from happening and reduce the severity of any incident that does happen
- report certain fire and structural safety issues or incidents
- engage with residents about the building’s safety
- keep, update and provide information about the building
- transfer building safety information to any incoming accountable person
- notify the Building Safety Regulator if there’s a change to an accountable person
Further information is needed to help agents comply
In recent surveys of Propertymark member agents, concerns have been expressed about being unable to fulfil their responsibilities to manage safety risks. There is uncertainty about the feasibility of adopting these regulations and the role agents will have in supporting accountable persons in delivering their duties.
The Building Safety Regulator is expected to set out guidance in the and we are calling for information to be made available on:
- A clear timeline shows when the expected reporting and monitoring systems must be in place.
- Standardised templates for all reports and forms APs and PAPs must produce, including Building Assessment Certificates and safety case reports.
- A simplified summary of all duties for Accountable and Principal Accountable Persons which can be provided to agents managing leasehold properties.
- Further details about the process for establishing who the AP and PAP are, to enable all buildings to prepare for the Regulations.