New building regulations will be but in place in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, with details released in the Government’s official report into the devastating blaze, published today.
Seventy one people died in the tragedy on June 14th last year, with the Government’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, led by Dame Judith Hackitt, outlining a catalogue of failings which led to the disaster.
Dame Judith, an engineer and former chair the Health and Safety Executive, was extremely critical of current regulations which she described as “ambiguous and unclear” and said that for some building firms the “prime motivation is to do things as quickly and cheaply as possible… A race to the bottom”.
However she does NOT recommend a ban on the use of flammable cladding saying it will “not address the root causes” of the issues that led to the tragedy.
The report proposes a new regulator and regulatory framework as well as strengthened enforcement powers and improved rights for residents.
In the first instance work will be focused on multi-occupancy higher risk residential buildings (HRRBs) that are 10 storeys or more in height.
The report says a new Joint Competent Authority (JCA) made up of Local Authority Building Standards, fire and rescue authorities and the Health and Safety Executive will oversee better management of safety risks in these buildings (through safety cases) across their entire life cycle.
Enforcement powers will also be strengthened with more serious penalties for those who choose to ‘game the system’ and place residents at risk.
The report also sets out the need for a clear and identifiable ‘dutyholder’ with responsibility for building safety of the whole building.
This dutyholder during occupation and maintenance should maintain the fire and structural safety of the whole building, and identify and make improvements where reasonable and practicable.
It also proposes giving more power to residents when it comes to decision-making and a testing regime with clearer labelling and product traceability.
Publication of the report comes after Theresa May announced on Wednesday the Government will fully fund the removal and replacement of dangerous cladding materials from tower blocks for councils and housing associations – a project expected to cost in the region of £400m.
Dame Judith will give now evidence on her report to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee at 3:30pm today. The session can be watched here.
To read the full report click here.
The RLA has reviewed its fire safety advice for residential landlords, with an overview available here. Owners of apartments or purpose built flats may also find the Guidance on fire safety in individual flats useful.
In addition to the new guidance the RLA is now offering online and classroom fire safety training courses which cover:
- The different legislation relating to fire safety.
- The different building/property types and which pieces of the above legislation apply
- How to conduct fire risk assessments and protect both your tenants and your property from fire
- Practical tips on fire safety and with reference to the LACORS fire safety guide.
For more information on our training courses click here.