The Building Safety Act of 2022 brings transformative changes to high-rise residential building regulations, notably through the recent Higher-Risk Buildings (Descriptions and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations 2023. This legislation refines criteria during the design and occupation phases, categorizing structures based on height, stories, and residential occupancy. As Phase 3 approaches in October 2023, amending the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, a heightened focus on fire safety in residential high-risk buildings emerges, reshaping the roles of accountable persons. The imminent Higher-Risk Buildings Register underscores the urgency for compliance, particularly in work at height safety. This article delves into the key considerations for higher-risk residential buildings, exploring the interplay between the Building Safety Act, its amendments, and the need for a proactive approach to work at height safety within evolving building regulations.

What is a Higher-Risk Residential Building?

The Building Safety Act of 2022 defines Higher-Risk Residential Buildings as high-rise structures susceptible to structural or fire safety vulnerabilities. To be classified as such, a structure needs to meet specific criteria, including a minimum height of 18 meters or a minimum of 7 storeys, and it must house at least 2 residential units. Accountable persons (PAPs), who could be building owners or landlords, are crucial in safeguarding higher-risk buildings. They fulfill this responsibility by registering the structures and providing Key Building Information to the Building Safety Regulator within 28 days of the application.

The Act distinguishes between higher-risk residential buildings during design and construction versus those during occupation, outlining specific criteria for each phase. In the design and construction phase, a building is considered a higher risk if it meets certain criteria. During the occupation phase, the same criteria apply, emphasizing buildings with a minimum height of 18 meters, at least 7 storeys, and a minimum of two residential units. Certain building types, like occupied care homes or hospitals, are expressly excluded during the occupation to address specific fire safety concerns.

Higher-Risk Buildings Regulations 2023

As a crucial part of the Building Safety Act of 2022, the Higher-Risk Buildings Regulations 2023 aim to enhance the safety of existing higher-risk residential buildings. Mandating registration for approximately 12,500 occupied high-risk buildings by October 1, 2023, these regulations are overseen by the Building Safety Regulator (BSR).

Section 77 of the 2022 Act deems it an offense for a building to be occupied without registration, holding the Principal Accountable Person (PAP) responsible. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announces the Building Safety Register’s launch in April 2023, emphasizing the urgency of registration by October 2023. Non-compliance poses legal and reputational risks, underlining the importance of timely adherence. The Register, governed by the BSR under the Building Safety Act and the Building Safety (Registration of Higher-Risk Buildings and Review of Decisions) (England) Regulations 2023, takes effect on April 6, 2023. Anticipating details from The Higher-Risk Buildings (Key Building Information etc.) (England) Regulations 2023 (the Info Regulations), the goal remains the enhanced safety and oversight of higher-risk residential buildings.

Which Buildings are Excluded?

The definition of “Higher-Risk Buildings” during occupation under the Building Safety Act of 2022 comes with specific exclusions. Buildings falling into the following categories do not require registration as higher-risk residential buildings:

• Hospitals,
• Care homes,
• Secure residential institutions,
• Hotels,
• Military barracks and living accommodation for military personnel,
• Prisons.

In essence, Regulation 8 ensures that the definition of “higher-risk building” under section 65 of the 2022 Act does not encompass buildings that serve specific purposes such as care homes, hospitals, secure residential institutions, hotels, and military accommodations. The exclusions aim to streamline the regulatory focus on structures posing higher inherent risks during the occupation, emphasizing the importance of precision in identifying and registering higher-risk residential buildings.

Who is Responsible for Submitting the Application?

The responsibility for applying to higher-risk residential buildings rests with the accountable person, often identified as the owner, landlord, or management company. The Building Safety Act of 2022 introduces the concept of the Principal Accountable Person (PAP), emphasizing one ultimate entity responsible for a building’s safety. In scenarios with multiple owners, one is designated as the PAP, overseeing the registration process for higher-risk residential buildings. This involves submitting Key Building Information within 28 days of the application, with ongoing responsibilities for updates and prompt notifications to the Building Safety Regulator.

What The Registration Application Must Include?

The registration application for these buildings necessitates comprehensive details to ensure transparency and accountability. Key components include:

• Accountable Person Details
• PAP Organization Type
• Application Representative Details
• Single Point of Contact
• Building Description
• Building Control Details
• Building Certificate

Upon submitting the registration application, the PAP has a subsequent 28-day window to provide Key Building Information, encompassing essential details such as the building’s name, address, height, number of floors, PAP, and Accountable Person(s) details, responsible building parts, construction completion year, and confirmation of the completion certificate for new builds. Notably, this process reflects global trends in building safety, mirroring the accountability measures observed in some of the highest buildings in the world, and reinforcing the importance of standardized safety protocols. Non-registration after the initial 6-month period will be deemed an offense, preventing the building’s occupation.

Okan Ergin

Okan Ergin

Okan Ergin has been working as the General Coordinator at Ergin Makina since 2005.