THE GOVERNMENT have announced a number of measures around building safety, including the launch of a consultation on building regulations and fire safety guidance.
The Government is yet to publish further details concerning the announced requirement for landlords in the private rented sector to carry out electrical installation safety checks every five years.
The National Association of Landlords (NLA) will be pressing the department for more information concerning:
- the full scope of the inspections required
- the regulatory and enforcement regime
- who will be deemed competent, or authorised to carry out the checks
- any exemptions which may be created, for instance in respect of new buildings
- when the testing requirement is likely to come into force, and whether the Government is confident there will be sufficient qualified electricians to carry out the volume of inspections required.
NLA will also seek confirmation that portable appliances are not to be included in the checking regime, as they argued that this could introduce unreasonable practical costs and burdens for private landlords, relative to the risk posed by landlord-supplied appliances.
The secretary of state for communities, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, said there will be a full-scale technical review of the guidelines covering fire safety matters within and around buildings, known as ‘Approved Document B’, this autumn.
The Government are seeking views on the proposed clarification of statutory guidance on fire safety that aims to improve usability and reduce the risk of misinterpretation by those carrying out and inspecting building work. The key aim is to update the existing guidance to reflect modern building practices and technical and scientific innovations, including the latest understanding of fire risks.
In addition to the new electrical checks the Minister announced:
- a residents panel will be established to ensure proposed safety improvements are grounded in the experience of those who live in high-rise buildings
- Dame Judith Hackitt will chair an Industry Safety Steering Group to drive the culture change needed to improve safety and hold industry to account
- working with a small group of organisations from industry, safety improvements will be piloted, in line with Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations, demonstrating early leadership on building safety reform.
Speaking at the launch of the consultation, he commented, “There is nothing more important than ensuring people are safe in their own homes. That is why I am announcing a package of measures focused on improving building safety, having listened carefully to the concerns which have been raised.
“Dame Judith’s report sets out the right framework to improve safety, but I will not hesitate to go further than the recommendations where I deem it necessary. That is why I am going further than my original commitment to simply clarify the guidelines, by commencing an end-to-end technical review of the fire safety aspects of building regulations in the autumn.”
The Government has continued its focus on building safety regulations, having previously:
- Launched a consultation on banning the use of combustible materials in the external walls of high-rise residential buildings which are 18 metres and above. The consultation closes on 14 August.
- Consulted on banning or restricting the use of ‘desktop studies’ from being used to assess the fire performance of cladding systems, unless our separate consultation demonstrates that they can be safely used. The consultation has closed and the government is reviewing the responses.
- Announced further action to support local authorities as they work with building owners to remove potentially unsafe cladding on private sector high-rise residential buildings.