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Building Safety Act - higher risk buildings registration to open

6 April sees a major milestone in the implementation of the Building Safety Act (the Act), with the window opening for the registration of higher risk buildings with the Building Safety Regulator. Failure to register an occupied higher risk building by 1 October 2023 will be a criminal offence.

Higher risk buildings for the purposes of registration and occupation requirements under the Act are buildings in England that: 1) are at least 18 metres in height or have at least 7 storeys and 2) contain at least 2 residential units but which are not:

  • hotels;
  • care homes;
  • hospitals;
  • secure residential institutions; or
  • military barracks.

A higher risk building will need to be registered by the accountable person (AP) or (if there is more than one AP) the principal accountable person (PAP). As with many aspects of the Act, the definitions of accountable person and principal accountable person are complex and subject to various exceptions. The starting point is however that an AP is a person who holds a legal estate in possession in any common parts of the building (meaning the structure and exterior of the building and other common parts of the building) or who has a repair obligation in relation to these.

Where there is more than one AP, the PAP will be the AP who:

  • holds a legal estate in possession in the relevant parts of the structure and exterior of the building; or
  • who does not hold a legal estate in any part of the building but who is under a relevant repairing obligation in relation to the relevant parts of the structure and exterior of the building.

Owners of residential buildings and those with management responsibilities will need to consider:

  • whether the building is a higher risk building - whilst the basic definition might seem quite simple, the definition of “building” is broad and there are complexities around residential buildings that are linked to or form part of a wider building;
  • who will be an AP and PAP – there may be multiple APs and it is possible that more than one entity of person could be the PAP. If so, there will be a question about which entity or person should fulfil the role of PAP.

The registration process itself (which includes payment of a fee of £251) will be through a digital platform and will require confirmation of the identity of the AP or APs and any PAP and the provision of basic details of the building (its address, number of residential units, height, number of storeys and year of construction). A building’s height and number of storeys are subject to specific definitions. For buildings completed prior to 6 April 2023, details of the Building Regulations completion certificate or final certificate will need to be provided as part of the registration application. The building certificate information to be provided as part of the registration process for buildings completed on or after 6 April 2023 will depend upon how the building in question is dealt with under the complex transitional provisions under the Act.

Those who own or have management responsibilities in relation to higher risk buildings should act promptly to consider and progress applications as some of the questions to consider may be complex. There is furthermore no minimum period for the regulator to register the building and it is estimated there are over 12,000 existing higher risk buildings which will need to be registered by 1 October 2023.

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