BSA: new guidance for principal accountable persons to assist in registration with BSR
On 17 May 2023, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) released new guidance "Giving BSR structure and fire safety information (key building information)" aimed at assisting principal accountable persons (PAP) to provide the information required when registering a high-rise residential building with the Building Safety Regulator (BSR).
The requirement to register all high-rise residential buildings with the newly created BSR (operated by the HSE) is one of the key reforms brought in by the Government under the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA), following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in 2017.
The requirement to register applies to high-rise residential structures i.e. those which have at least 7 floors or are at least 18m in height and contain at least two residential units. Two or more structures can be registered as a single building where they are connected by a walkway, lobby or basement that contain a residential unit, or by an internal door.
Registration opened in April 2023 and all relevant buildings must be registered by 30 September 2023. Failure to register an occupied higher-risk building by 1 October 2023 could lead to a fine or imprisonment. In order to register their building (which can be done online here), the PAP must pay a fee of £251 per building and provide the following details of the building:
- The number of floors;
- The building height;
- The number of residential units;
- The year (or approximate year) it was constructed;
- The building name, address and postcode;
- Names and contact details of the PAP and any other accountable persons.
- The name of the building control body that issued the completion certificate or final notice, if the building was constructed in 2023.
Once these details have been provided, PAPs then have the longer of 28 days or up to 30 September 2023 to provide "key building information". It is this key building information that the new guidance addresses. It explains what information about which parts of the building needs to be provided and suggests where it might be found. Information needs to be provided about the fire and smoke controls, fire doors, energy supplies storage and generation, the materials used in construction, the roof, staircases, external walls, connections to other buildings, the building use and any building work that has been carried out since the original build. The latter point in particular may take some work to establish, especially in older buildings which may have had a great deal of work done to them since construction.
Anyone with a repairing obligation can be an accountable person. Normally this would include landlords or superior landlords, but if they are not obligated to repair, this could include management bodies like right to manage companies. Where there are multiple accountable persons, it is crucial to be clear on who has been nominated to act as the PAP. PAPs can authorise someone else to act on their behalf in registering the building with the BSR but must be able to show that they understand the buildings for which they are accountable.
Whilst this new guidance is likely to be welcome to PAPs grappling with the requirements of the complex BSA, they reveal that a significant amount of information needs to be provided and there remains only 4 months to gather this information, a timeframe which could be problematic if professionals need to be engaged to assist. Anyone who is concerned that they might be an accountable person or PAP would be well advised to begin gathering this information and engage any relevant professionals as a matter of urgency.