Register your block of flats by 1 October 2023 – or go to jail!
15th September 2023
Mark Loveday gives a timely reminder as to the upcoming deadline for registration under the BSA 2022.
Escaped prisoners may be in the news, but under the Building Safety Act 2022, owners and managers of high-rise blocks of flats could face imprisonment if they don’t register with the government’s new Building Safety Regulator. There are an estimated 12,500 higher risk buildings in England, and failure to register by 1 October 2023 is a criminal offence.
Registration forms part of the information now being stored about a building and the steps needed to keep it safe throughout its entire life cycle – a crucial part of what is known as the ‘Golden Thread’.
What are higher-risk residential buildings?
Under section 65 of the Building Safety Act 2022, “higher risk” residential buildings are buildings containing two or more dwellings at least 18m high or with at least 7 storeys. Some buildings are excluded:
- secure residential institutions
- military barracks
- Care homes and hospitals when they are completed
Detailed definitions are given in the Act itself and in the Higher-Risk Buildings (Descriptions and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations 2023.
The Building Safety Register is established by section 78 of the Act. It is administered by the Health and Safety Executive, which has been appointed as the Building Safety Regulator under the Act. Details of the register are given in the Building Safety (Registration of Higher-Risk Buildings and Review of Decisions)(England) Regulations 2023.
Higher-risk buildings which are (or could be) occupied, must be registered with the Regulator by 1 October 2023.
Under section 77 of the Act, it is a criminal offence for the principal accountable person to allow the building to be occupied when not registered.
Similarly, from 1 October 2023 all new buildings must be registered with the Regulator and before occupation owners must obtain completion certificates under s.76 of the Act. From 1 October 2023, no leases can be completed in higher risk buildings without a completion certificate issued by the Regulator. Under section 76(2) of the Act, it is a criminal offence for the relevant accountable person to allow residents to occupy an unregistered building before a completion certificate is issued.
In each case, offences may be punished by unlimited fines or imprisonment for up to two years.
Who must apply?
Registration must be done by the Principal Accountable Person, or someone authorised by them, such as a managing agent or lawyer. The Principal Accountable Person may be an individual or an organisation, as defined in sections 72 and 73 of the Act. But it is not always easy to identify who the Principal Accountable Person should be. Although disputes can be referred to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) under section 75 of the Act, there is now little, or no time left to do this before the registration deadline expires.
How do you register?
The online registration service can be accessed on https://register-high-rise-building.hse.gov.uk/
The following information must be given about the building, by reference to the definitions in the relevant regulations:
- the number of floors at or above ground level
- its height in metres
- the number of residential units
- the year it was originally built
- its address or addresses
- if the building is made up of more than one high-rise residential structure, the same information must be given for each structure.
The government has issued further guidance about the information required: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/giving-bsr-structure-and-fire-safety-information-key-building-information/building-safety-regulator-giving-us-structure-and-safety-information-key-building-information.
Crucially, the application must name the Principal Accountable Person and any other Accountable Persons. So those persons must be identified before the application is filed.
Note that the obligations do not end on 1 October. Under the Higher-Risk Buildings (Key Building Information etc.) (England) Regulations 2023 referred to above, further key building information needs to be provided within 28 days of any application for registration.
Registration and reviews
The Regulator is not duty bound to register every application and can decide to reject the application or make queries. The applicant can apply to review a refusal of registration within 21 days of the decision under section 25 of the Act, using the procedure in Part 4 of the Building Safety (Registration of Higher-Risk Buildings and Review of Decisions) (England) Regulations 2023 referred to above.
Failure to meet the deadline is a criminal offence, punishable by an unlimited fine or even a prison sentence. You have been warned.
Mark Loveday is editor of Service Charges & Management (5th Ed) and a member of the Tanfield Chambers Building Safety Act Unit.
This article first appeared in Practical Law’s Property Litigation Column.
Team: Mark Loveday
Expertise: Commercial Landlord & Tenant
, Residential Landlord & Tenant
This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/ or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of Chambers or by Chambers as a whole.