Building Safety Act becomes law, but further action is needed

The UK Government’s legislative response to the Grenfell tragedy has now received Royal Assent but excludes some leaseholders from the new Building Safety Fund. Ministers had previously promised that leaseholders would be protected from the costs of cladding remediation, but landlords owning multiple properties have been prevented from accessing the fund as they are viewed as being of “significant wealth”.

This failure to protect landlords from the cost of remedying problems which they did not create is hugely disappointing, particularly in the light of earlier commitments in this area.

The Act grants residents of high-risk buildings more ways to raise concerns about safety issues, and agents will have a vital role to play in keeping occupants of properties in affected buildings informed and engaged. Propertymark will continue to support its members in this role.

New Building Regulators

Propertymark welcomes the introduction of a Building Safety Regulator within the Health and Safety Executive to monitor compliance with the new requirements, and a New Homes Ombudsman to assist homeowners experiencing problems with new build properties. 

Most of the provisions in the Act are expected to take effect in 12-18 months’ time, and will be supported by detailed regulations and guidance which are yet to be published.

Propertymark will continue to represent agents as these plans are agreed and advise members on their new responsibilities and how best to meet them. 

We welcome this step forward towards a properly regulated property sector and encourage the government to go further both in granting fair access to the fund to all landlords and in ensuring that the public has access to agents who are properly regulated.

This a hugely significant piece of legislation that following the tragic Grenfell Tower will continue to influence safety in residential buildings for years to come.

Propertymark continues to believe the legislation falls short on the UK Government’s pledge that those who did not cause this crisis would not have to pay to fix it, because there are leaseholders who will still not be eligible to access to the Building Safety Fund and that is unfair.

A new Building Safety Regulator is at the heart of the proposals and we are pleased to see the introduction of the New Homes Ombudsman, this will help to ensure there is consistency in redress for consumers across the property sector when buying and selling homes.

Agents buying, selling and renting property, in particular high-rise buildings, must recognise the importance of engagement with residents and the ongoing legislative focus on building and fire safety.

Moving forward, to help compliment the new building safety regime there must now be regulated sales, lettings and managing agents who are at the forefront of marketing and managing property and providing relevant information to consumers.

Timothy Douglas Head of Policy and Campaigns | Propertymark