With the Building Safety Case legislation gaining momentum and set to be implemented shortly, many landlords will have to start thinking about how they will comply. This new regime will require all higher risk buildings (and their occupants) to be registered and a Safety Case Report prepared for submission to the Building Safety Regulator. The aim is to show that’reasonable steps have been, or will be, taken’ to mitigate major fire and structural risks.
A safety case is a document that collates all the information used to manage a building’s fire and structural safety, including operation manuals, risk assessments, and statutory compliance records. It must be readily available and will have to be resubmitted every time there is any change or new information.
It will also have to contain a risk assessment that will show that the ‘accountable person’ has considered the major fire and structural risks for their occupants and those using the building and how they are to be managed and controlled. It must also outline how the occupants will be engaged and informed at different stages of the occupancy.
This information may already exist within existing files or will be accessible through a building’s design and specification documentation, fire strategies, or existing fire risk assessments. However, it will need to be collated into a single comprehensive and easily accessible report for future reference and use by the building owner and its residents, and the regulator.
Once the Safety Case has been approved by the Building Safety Regulator it will need to be submitted to each occupant. This will allow them to check that their landlord has registered their high rise building and provided a ‘Building Safety Certificate’. The occupants will then need to sign this to confirm they have read and understood it and agree to the responsibilities that come with living in a higher risk building.
The occupants will then have a legal right to complain to the ombudsman about any issues they feel are not being addressed. The ombudsman service will be independent of the building owner and is expected to launch in 2023.
This will bring a whole host of new obligations for landlords, including the need to establish and operate a resident’s panel and to ensure that any complaints are handled promptly and effectively. It will also require landlords to create a ‘golden thread’ of information, which must be accessible digitally and track all the evidence of risk assessments, certifications and safety checks throughout a building’s lifecycle. This will be the main way for landlords to demonstrate that’reasonable steps have been, and will continue to be, taken’ to mitigate major fire and structure failure risks. It will also prove that they are meeting their statutory obligations. This will be an important piece of legislation for all landlords to embrace, whatever size they are.