In the wake of the Grenfell disaster, new measures have been announced by the Government to adopt a higher level of building safety and impose criminal sanctions for non-compliance.
It is therefore essential that building owners are aware of their obligations and adhere to the recommendations. The new proposals will be a welcome step for leaseholders currently in buildings which have fire safety concerns.
The new measures introduced/proposed include:
- A Building and Safety Regulator
- Extension of the current cladding ban to include a wider range of materials
- Steps to ensure existing remedial works are completed without delay
- Updated building safety guidance
A Building Safety Regulator will be set up immediately and its purpose is to oversee the design and management of buildings (with a focus on high risk buildings). It will have the power to impose criminal sanctions for non-compliance and have a wide range of enforcement powers.
Whilst the consultation on cladding and other similar materials continues until April 2020 and there will not be a definitive ban until the consultation has expired, it is advisable to avoid these materials altogether for new developments to advance safety and future proof developments for ongoing legislation.
Currently the consultation proposes:
- Ban to not only include high rise buildings but hotels, hostels and boarding houses;
- Lowering the threshold height from 18 metres to 11 metres;
- Banning metal composite materials with a polythene core on external walls (regardless of height); and
- Extending the ban to include ‘solar shading products’ such as blinds and shutters.
Developments in need of remedial works to ensure fire safety will be monitored and the Government will ‘name and shame’ building owners who have not taken steps to remove unsafe cladding.
Building owners should also note the updated guidance on building safety which includes recommendations for cladding, external walls and fire doors.
As a leaseholder, the proposals should prompt a response from building owners to be more aware of their obligations and take steps to improve properties in need of remedial work. Further, the introductions of criminal sanctions and enforcement give the proposals more ‘bite’ and building owners should take note of this.