Housing Minister sets expectations for Safety Case Reports

The Housing Minister, Lee Rowley, MP, and Philip White, Director of Building Safety for the Building Safety Regulator, have published a joint open letter to building managers addressing the issue of charges associated with managing safety in buildings over 18 metres.

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As part of the regime for higher-risk buildings in England, put in place in response to the Grenfell fire in 2017, those who are accountable for individual buildings must create safety case reports (SCRs) and submit them to the Building Safety Regulator (BSR).

SCRs are documents that identify building safety risks – specifically the spread of fire and structural failure – and explain how they are being managed. For some buildings the process of creating the SCR is challenging, and requires investigations or assessments to be carried out.

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Keep focus on the safety of occupants

In the letter, Rowley and White say concerns have been raised about the costs associated with producing the required documentation, and it has come to their attention that in some cases high prices are being charged for services related to the creation of an SCR.

They state that managers should not assume that new investigations and assessments must be carried out for the purpose of an SCR if there are existing ones that can be used. This includes fire engineering, building surveys and other specialist activities.

Property owners and managers are urged to remember that the purpose of an SCR is to prevent building safety failures that could result in loss of life and any work to produce the report should be justified against that standard.

Informing leaseholders

The cost of professional services in relation to relevant works can be passed on to leaseholders, but the law states they must be ‘reasonable’. Leaseholders should be able to understand what they are being charged for and why, how much it will cost, and how long the work is expected to take.

Additionally, details of quotes should describe the works in a way that means residents can make easy comparisons between multiple quotations. Accountable persons should be able to explain and justify any such costs as part of their resident engagement strategy, ensuring transparency about service charges.

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Supporting members

To help sales and letting agents navigate the complexities of regulations released under the Building Safety Act 2022, Propertymark created a series of fact sheets to explain the rules and how they impact home buyers and sellers, and landlords and tenants.

The BSR has produced guidance on preparing a safety case report, and they can be contacted for further advice via GOV.UK.

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Fact sheet: Building Safety Act 2022

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.

Read the letter from Lee Rowley and Philip White in full