Agents and landlords are being warned that the Fire Safety Act 2021 will make a huge impact on their responsibilities - and marks the start of a new era for building safety.
Safety and compliance company Bureau Veritas says agents, landlords and duty holders should prepare for the Act, which won Royal Assent in April and will come into effect shortly.
It will amend the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and aims to make it clearer where responsibility for fire safety lies.
The new laws apply to buildings containing more than one home that are over 18 metres or six/seven stories in height and seeks to respond to the outcomes of the Hackitt Review, following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 clarifies that the responsible person or duty holder for multi-occupied, residential buildings must “manage and reduce the risk of fire” posed by the building’s structure, and most notably external wall systems, including windows and balconies, and individual occupants’ entrance doors.
Under the clarification, fire and rescue services will be authorised to take enforcement action and hold building owners to account if they are not compliant.
This latest law follows on from various action already taken designed towards strengthening the whole regulatory system for building safety, including new sprinkler requirements and the forthcoming Building Safety Bill which was presented to Parliament last month.
Bureau Veritas’ fire consultancy technical director John O’Sullivan says: “The government is expected to release further guidance on the Act later this year, as there is further consultation currently taking place in relation to the stay put policy and evacuation procedures for high rise residential properties.
“Therefore, we would encourage any landlord or duty holder to take stock of the new changes already in place and review its current fire risk assessments policies.
“The Fire Safety Act potentially poses new challenges for duty holders, with the inclusion of the building structure, external walls, balconies and windows now forming part of a fire risk assessment process, and with the onus now firmly placed on duty holders to get it right, it’s essential these are done properly.”