The Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA) was established to reform building safety legislation, which will in turn enhance building safety. Its introduction puts in place more stringent building safety responsibilities, some of which sit with resident led organisations (Right to Manage companies (RTM) and Resident Management Companies (RMC)), which will be considered accountable persons within relevant higher risk buildings.
Before going further, it is important to cover the definition of an accountable person and a higher risk building:
Accountable person – An organization or individual who owns or has a legal obligation to repair any common parts of the building.
Higher risk building – A building that is at least 18 metres in height or has at least seven storeys and contains at least two residential units.
Whilst it may sound daunting for anyone who is part of an RTM or RMC, it is important to note that the resident led entity as a whole are considered the accountable person, not each of the individuals within it. However, this does not relieve resident directors of personal liability if they are involved in an offence being committed under the BSA. Therefore, with the vast majority of directors not being competent in building safety and having this level of responsibility, it is important that they identify some sort of support to ensure they do not inadvertently commit an offence, and more importantly the safety requirements of relevant buildings are fulfilled.
Building Safety Directors
To provide resident-led organisations with appropriate support, the BSA allows such organisations to appoint a Building Safety Director (BSD) to the board. This individual must have relevant expertise, that enables them to provide support in meeting building safety duties.
The benefit of having a BSD in place is that they can provide independent and expert advice on building safety matters, which will ensure all relevant safety regulations and standards are met. This will also help to make sure any safety risks that are identified are fully understood and managed appropriately. Additionally, this should provide residents with reassurance that the building is being managed effectively, and that it is safe and secure.
Building Safety Director’s duties
The BSD will be responsible for supporting the management companies in ensuring that the building is safe for residents and visitors, which may require regular meetings and frequently liaising with managing agents. Their duties are likely to include:
- Regular site visits
- Advising directors on building safety and compliance
- Reviewing safety reports
- Communicating with residents, management companies and agents
- Monitoring and evaluating building safety risks and hazards
Whilst it is understood that there is not a specific number of buildings that a BSD can be involved in at once, they must be able to carry out their duties effectively, and the number they can manage will be dependent upon factors such as the size and complexity of the buildings, the level of risk and the resources available to the BSD.
Selecting a Building Safety Director
If a resident-led organisation does not have an individual willing and able to take on the responsibility for building safety, then a BSD is likely to be extremely appealing. However, identifying a suitable BSD may be difficult due to their availability and cost. With such a significant level of accountability, combined with the on-going skills shortage, there are few BSDs, with even fewer with capacity to take on more buildings. All of this combined means that the fees BSDs are able to charge are significant and will ultimately impact the budget level to carry out any necessary building safety works.
To summarise, it is likely that resident-led organisations will ideally like to have a BSD in place to provide them with expert building safety support. Therefore, if someone is identified who is deemed to be within price range, we advise acting quickly to secure them. Alternatively, if unable to find and/or fund a suitable BSD, we have seen organisations beginning to offer innovative services, which provide the equivalent support of a BSD on a monthly subscription basis which may be of interest.