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Social Housing Speed Read – building regulations and fire safety

Following the announcement made by the Government in July, an independent review has been commissioned to review and assess the suitability of Building and Fire Safety Regulations.

What’s new?

Following the Grenfell Tower fire, the Government has commissioned an independent review, chaired by Dame Judith Hackitt, which is now seeking evidence on “potential systemic failures” in order to review and reform the current regulatory system.

The review will run in parallel and cooperate with the Statutory Inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire, headed by Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

What is being reviewed?

In terms of the definition of “regulatory system”, the review team aims to make recommendations for reform, based on the current framework of building, housing and fire safety legislation/guidance. This will include:

  • The legal requirements: Legislation and guidance on various areas, including: planning, design, procurement, construction, refurbishment and management of buildings.
  • Roles and responsibilities: The roles and responsibilities of individuals/organisations at each stage of process who themselves (a) ensure relevant requirements have been satisfied or (b) those who formally assess that all legal requirements have been fulfilled.
  • Compliance processes: The formal processes individuals/organisations have to satisfy and prove compliance.
  • Competency: Competency requirements placed on those who formally assess compliance.
  • Enforcement and sanctions: The regime of enforcement and sanctions when building or fire safety requirements are judged to have not been met.
  • Quality assurance: The broader processes where specific products used in the building process are certified to have met particular safety standards.

What input are they seeking?

The review team states that they are “particularly interested” to hear from respondents on what is working well and what aspects of the regulatory system could be reformed to enhance fire safety.

In respect to the overarching legal/regulatory system, the review team also ask if there are “gaps, inconsistencies and/or overlaps” in the existing legislation and if it is “clear and well understood”.

Whilst the review will examine building and fire safety regulations and related compliance and enforcement, the focus will be on multi-occupancy high rise residential buildings.

The review team has stated their aim is to provide assurance to residents that the regulatory system is working to ensure the buildings they live in are safe and remain so into the future.

The review team specifically asks that respondents answer questions as broadly as possible and focus on making suggestions for future improvements, if possible.

In particular, the review team is inviting examples from respondents of good practice from other countries’ regulatory regimes, to ensure that the Government can learn any key lessons from international experiences.

In addition, the review team specifically seeks input as to whether there should be a differentiation in the regulatory system between high-rise multi occupancy residential buildings and other, less complex, types of residential/non-residential buildings.

Next steps

Once concluded, the review team will make recommendations for further work/action required by the Government, which may cover changes or clarifications required to any part of the regulatory system.

The review team will report jointly to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and Home Secretary Amber Rudd; an interim report will be submitted in Autumn 2017 and a final report will be submitted in Spring 2018.

Responses should be submitted by 13 October 2017 to:

If you have any questions on the above and how it will affect social housing providers, or any other questions as a social housing provider, please do not hesitate to contact John Murray or a member of our expert Social Housing Team.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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