Guide to the New Building Safety Act UK
Building Safety Act Summary
With the Building Safety Act gaining royal assent and becoming Law in April 2022, are you and you organisation fully aware of the changes to how projects in scope are procured, commenced and achieve Building Regulations approval? This alongside the additional statutory duties being brought into place for Clients, Designers and Contractors alike?
At present Buildings in scope, as defined within the Act, are multiple occupancy residences over 18m in height or 7 storeys (whichever is reached first). However, it is anticipated that in due course the scope of the Act will be extended to cover other multiple occupancy premises such as hotels and care homes.
- Building Safety Act Explained
- Duty Holders Responsibilities
- Introduction of “gateway” system
- The Accountable Person
- Building Safety Regulator
- Building Regulations Approval
- How Existing Buildings Will Be Affected
- How it will affect other roles
Questions regarding the new Act?
Contact CHPK to see how we can assist you.
Building Safety Act Explained
The new regime places greater responsibility on those designing, constructing and refurbishing buildings in scope. The act creates new statutory duty holders with responsibilities for managing safety risks, ensuring compliance with the Building Regulations and demonstrating to a newly formed regulatory body (The Building Safety Regulator, overseen by the Health and Safety Executive) that the building is safe to construct and occupy.
The new regulations provide the Building Safety Regulator with powerful enforcement and sanctioning powers, as follows:
- Not allow works to commence on site
- Stop work on site
- Stop occupation of the building at completion
- Issuing of fines with unlimited ceilings and prosecution leading to imprisonment
- It will be a criminal offence if a stop work or improvement notice on the scheme is breached
Questions regarding the new Act?
Contact CHPK to see how we can assist you.
Duty Holders Responsibilities
There are three key duty holders under the Building Safety Act and these roles are aligned with those under the CDM Regulations 2015. It is intended that in the majority of cases it will be the same persons/organisations fulfilling these roles under both sets of legislation.
The Duty Holders are:
- The Client – the person or organisation for whom the works are being carried out.
- The Principal Designer – as appointed by the Client under the CDM Regulations 2015.
- The Principal Contractor – as appointed by the Client under the CDM Regulations 2015.
Introduction of “gateway” system
A Gateway system consisting of three approval stages will be introduced by October 2023; Gateway 1 is already in force and was enacted through changes to planning legislation. These hard stop/go gateways have the potential to delay or halt project progress at the following stages should the building regulator not be satisfied with the information submitted:
- Gateway 1 – Planning
- Gateway 2 – Pre Start on Site
- Gateway 3 – Practical Completion/Occupation
A project will not be able to proceed on to the next stage without approval from the Building Safety Regulator.
With the new Building Safety Regulator’s powers to stop work, delay occupation and issue unlimited fines your project could be at risk of unacceptable delays and cost increases.
The Accountable Person and Building Safety Regulator
Accountable Person Responsibilities
Prior to occupation the client must appoint a competent accountable person to oversee the ongoing compliance of a building in scope with the Building Safety Act.
For most buildings in scope the identity of the Accountable Person will be clear. The Accountable Person will be the individual, partnership or corporate body with the legal right to receive funds through service charges or rent from leaseholders and tenants in the building. The Accountable Person will also be identifiable by their legal responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the structure and outside of the building, and the plant room and common parts within. In the case of complex building ownership models, there could be more than one Accountable Person. The Accountable Person will therefore in most cases be the freeholder or head lessee.
The new Building Safety Regulator’s powers to stop work, delay occupation and issue unlimited fines may cause unacceptable delays and add extra financial burden to your Clients project – contact CHPK to discuss how we can assist you ensuring that your projects are not affected by the incoming Act.
Building Safety Regulator
The Building Safety Regulator is a newly formed national organisation and is responsible for implementing and enforcing the new more stringent regulatory regime for buildings in scope.
At present the Building Safety Regulators scope will apply to all multi occupied residential buildings of 18m or more in height or 7 or more stories, whichever is reached first.
The Building Safety Regulator has been set up as part of the Health & Safety Executive. The HSE is an established Regulator with many years’ experience regulating safety issues across all sectors. This includes construction, and will utilise the skills, expertise and capacity of local authority building control and, where necessary, approved inspectors to undertake its primary objective of ensuring compliance with the Building Regulations.
The Building Safety Regulator will receive information from the project duty holders at three defined Gateways and a project will not be able to commence on site or be occupied on completion without the agreement of the Building Safety Regulator.
In addition to the Gateway process, the new Regulator will also have the power to:
- Stop work on site
- Stop occupation of the building at completion
- Issuing of unlimited fines and prosecution for failures in compliance by the duty holders
Building Regulations Approval
For buildings in scope the Client is no longer able to select their own Building Control body, be it the Local Authority or an Approved Inspector. The Building Safety Regulator will act as the Building Control body for the project.
However, you should be aware that whoever is appointed as the Principal Designer for the project also has a duty to ensure the Building Regulations are complied with.
A project will not be able to proceed on to the next stage without approval from the Building Safety Regulator.
A project cannot start on site until the Regulator is satisfied with the content of the Building Safety Case.
Similarly, a building will not be able to be occupied unless the Regulator is satisfied with the content of the final Building Safety Case information.
Partial sign off at Gateways two and three will be available for example the piling and sub structure could be approved to allow these select items to commence on site without full approval of the plans, similarly partial occupation will be allowed at completion of certain dwellings or blocks providing an appropriate safety case is in place and signed off by the Regulator.
How Existing Buildings Will Be Affected
The Building Safety Act will also apply to existing buildings.
Existing buildings that are already occupied will also need to be registered with the Building Safety Regulator and existing buildings which are unoccupied at the introduction of the new regime will have to be registered by the point the building is occupied.
The Accountable person will need to will need to apply for Building Assurance Certificates in the same way as for new buildings. A transitional period will be put in place however the timescale of this is yet to be advised.
Buildings in scope undergoing Refurbishment works also fall within the parameters of the Building Safety Act with the Regulator acting as the Building Control Body for these works as well. The gateway system will not apply however there will be requirements for varying levels of information to be submitted dependant on the type of ‘Prescribed Refurbishment’ being undertaken.
How It Will Affect Other Roles
Read about the new enhanced duties placed upon the Client by the forthcoming Building Safety Act.
Read about the new changes that will effect how you manage and procure projects in your role as Project Manager.
Read about the new enhanced duties placed upon the Principal Designer by the forthcoming Building Safety Act.
With reference to the specific role of the Principal Designer under the Building Safety Act, please click on the link below to open up CHPK’s ‘Principal Designer timeline’, which sets out the requirements placed upon the Principal Designer as aligned with the current RIBA plan of work (2020).
The Act clearly states that Duty Holders can utilise the skills of consultancy services to help them with the discharging of their duties under the Act.
CHPK are ideally placed to assist your practice in complying with both the duties of the Principal Designer under the CDM Regulations 2015 and the Principal Designer role under the Building Safety Act. With over 20 years of experience in discharging duties under the CDM Regulations and specialist Building Regulations experience in-house, we can provide you with an all-in-one solution to meet your competency needs.
The new Building Safety Regulator’s powers to stop work, delay occupation and issue unlimited fines may cause unacceptable delays and add extra financial burden to your project – contact CHPK to discuss how we can assist you ensuring you are both competent to undertake the role and comply with your duties on all buildings currently in scope.
Our sister company, Act Building Control, have had their insurance renewed but the Insurance Market for Approved Inspectors is in turmoil and puts construction projects at risk of major significant delays and additional costs.
Please read our breifing by clicking on the link below:
If you have any questions about this briefing, please do not hesitate to contact Gavin Lacey who will be pleased to help if you have any concerns on this matter.
“Despite Act Building Control having had their insurance successfully renewed, CHPK and Act Building Control will continue to work to bring change to this market as the current situation is bad for everyone; not just AIs, clients or contractors but the public as well, who could see the delay in the delivery of school, hospital and housing projects”
Dilapidations Pre-Action Protocol
The Dilapidations Pre-Action Protocol (or simply ‘The Protocol’ to most surveyors) was first published in spring 2002 by the Property Litigation Association. The Protocol was endorsed by the RICS as best practice and annexed to the RICS Guidance Note in the same year. The aim of the Protocol is to try and reduce the amount of Dilapidations cases that go to court by setting out standards of pre action conduct for terminal dilapidations claim for both Landlord’s surveyors and Tenant’s surveyors.
There have been some who over the years have stated that the Protocol has no teeth because it was not a formal protocol under the Civil Procedure Rules but this is about to change. The Civil Procedure Rule Committee has now agreed to formal adoption and this will occur on the 1st January 2012.
Generally, Protocol compliance is the responsibility of your surveyor. However one item for Landlords to note is the timescale for service of the Schedule of Dilapidations. The Protocol states that a reasonable time to serve the Schedule is within 56 days after the termination of the tenancy. As such, we recommend that if you are considering serving a Schedule of Dilapidations upon a tenant you should be taking advice prior to lease termination.
The revised Protocol and Guidance Note are yet to be published but we understand that the changes are minor and are likely to have little effect on how our client’s matters are dealt with. CHPK has since it’s first publication voluntarily complied with the Protocol when dealing with Dilapidations.
Building Regulations Update
Most people working in property will be aware of the huge number of changes to Building Regulations in recent years particularly to Part L. (Conservation of Fuel & Power) and many more are on the way.
The Department for Communities & Local Government plan to update the following Approved Documents (Parts) in the next 2 years:
Part A – Structure
Part C – Resistance to Contamination and Moisture
Part F – Ventilation
Part L – Conservation of Fuel and Power
Part H – Drainage and Waste Disposal
As ever, due to the political importance of environmental issues it is likely to be the changes to Part L that are the most far reaching. Although the exact changes are unknown we can guarantee that the requirements will become more onerous rather than less. It certainly may be worth considering expediting any planned works before changes come into place if you think any of these areas set to change will affect you.
Reinstatement Cost Assessments (known as Fire Insurance Valuations to most)
A recent survey by Barrett Corp & Harrington Ltd. found that in nearly 75% of Reinstatement Cost Assessments the building was found to be underinsured. Of those underinsured properties the average increase needed to be 68%.
It is due to such concerns that the RICS revised their Practice Standards guidance note this year. The revised guidance note places much more emphasis on providing a completely individual and bespoke Assessment to each and every building rather than simply applying a ‘rate’ to the gross internal floor area. More emphasis is placed upon visiting each building and therefore the ‘desk based review’ is discouraged as it simply does not allow the surveyor to fully appreciate the properties of the building.
It is important that surveyors comply with these guidance notes. They are key to making sure that the client is receiving the best possible advice.
Two of the country’s leading property consultancies have come together to create a new group that will raise the bar in the sector.
City of London-based CHPK Property and Construction Consultants has merged with Act Chartered Surveyors, headquartered in Gloucester, in a deal that will bring clients a complete range of expert services.
The merger will see both businesses continue to operate as individual brands but with a broader range of expertise and services available to existing and new clients.
CHPK Director, Gavin Lacey, said: “Both businesses are very strong and respected brands so it is important that we continue to build on those identities by providing the best and broadest range of services to our clients, which this merger allows us to do through drawing on the respective skills and expertise of both companies.”
In addition, with Act’s network of offices across the Midlands and South West, clients well beyond London, will now benefit from the additional services delivered by CHPK.
Alex Maidment, Director of Act, said: “Both businesses will actively seek to grow, as we now extend our respective offerings to clients and our reach into new areas. This is an exciting move for both us and for our clients, who will benefit from one of the industry’s most comprehensive and expert consultancy groups.”
The range of services now offered by the new group includes the following:
- Contract Administration
- Project Management
- Building Surveys
- Quantity Surveying
- Dilapidations expertise
- Party Wall expertise
- Building Regulations Compliance and Advice
- Approved Inspectors
- Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 expertise
- Building Pathology
- Building Re-instatement Assessments
- Equality Act expertise
- Expert Witness Service
- Fire Regulations, Consultancy and Risk Assessment
- Space Planning
- Training and Seminars
“Together, we are a stronger, more vibrant group that delivers real added value,” said Alex. “We are delighted to be working with the renowned and respected specialists at CHPK.”
CHPK Director, Tom Moriarty, added: “This merger is exciting for the both the Act and CHPK teams, which will develop alongside each other to offer the very best and broadest range of services to clients, as we grow together and ensure clients receive the best services available.”
Effective Project Management involves getting all parties to work as a team to ensure that the client gets the works completed on time and to budget. At CHPK, we cover the whole project from inception to completion and believe that all construction projects are more successful when they are run in a collaborative manner, which will ultimately promote the most productive working relationships between all parties.
Project Management should be geared to:
• Minimising Risk
• Achieving Quality
• Maximising Investment Returns
• Maintaining Safety
Teamwork for a Successful Project
Today’s industry revolves around tight deadlines and all parties must move forward together to maintain momentum for the success of the project. Without teamwork, the only outcome is a project that is late and over budget and a very unhappy client.
Maintaining Momentum is Crucial
Project Managers must understand the considerable challenges of the construction industry’s many complex inter-related processes. Every project is unique and will therefore have unique challenges and issues.
Whether it’s a conversion, a refurbishment, a new build or an extension, there will always be logistical issues which some Project Managers leave to the contractor. To deliver a project successfully, these matters need to be considered in advance and planned for. For example, when working in central London, access is always a major factor.
With conversions and refurbishments, each building will present specific problems relating to its age, construction and literally the ground it is built on.
We consider ourselves experts in the refurbishment and alteration of old buildings. Old buildings are quite often narrow and have been altered numerous times over the years and this presents its own set of challenges. Quite often, to convert these buildings into desirable spaces for retail or office tenants, the basement depth has to be increased and adjacent units joined. For retail clients, it is not uncommon to extend into the first floor above. More often than not, work has to be carried out whilst some of the floors are occupied. Therefore it is essential to create as little disturbance as possible, whilst maintaining safety for all.
Staying Up-To-Date With New Developments
Project Managers have to move with the times and this involves refining management expertise and techniques. Skills have to be continually expanded and reviewed so that they can be incorporated into future projects. At CHPK we take pride in our Continuing Professional Development and all staff have unlimited access to CPD programmes run by RICS.
Experience and Portfolio
Established for 12 years, our portfolio includes many high profile clients including Chelsfield, The Knightsbridge Estate, Dreams, BSkyB, AmsProp, Nabarro, CMS, CBRE Global Investors, AECOM, DMGT and the Sellar Property Group. With our wealth of industry knowledge, expertise and experience, this places us in an unrivalled position to provide professional advice to clients who require their Consultants to have an in-depth knowledge of the processes involved in all construction projects, from inception through to completion.
Project Management Services
CHPK offers a full Project Management service across London and throughout the UK, for all types of construction projects, in both the private and public sector and for a diverse range of clients, in the most demanding of areas. For many years CHPK has successfully concluded multiple projects on time and to budget.
CHPK’s offers comprehensive Construction Consultancy services include:
- Full Project Management Service
• Project Planning
• Feasibility Studies
• Quantity Surveying
• Contract Administration
• CDM 2015
• Space Planning
• Design Management and Liaison
• Production of Tender Documents
• Project Monitoring
If you would like to work with a company whose ethos is built around making Project Management a ‘refreshing and enjoyable’ experience, a company that listens to the needs of its clients in order to achieve favourable outcomes and which harmoniously delivers specifically tailored, effective solutions that will protect and enhance property values, please call us on 020 7377 2739 or email
We are able to offer a wide range of other Construction Consultancy services and would welcome the opportunity to meet to discuss any specific requirements. CHPK are RICS regulated Charter Building Surveyors and our Directors and staff hold various, recognised industry accreditations.
PCE Investors Ltd. V Cancer Research UK
This recently determined case revolved around a conditional break clause. As anyone who has been involved in a conditional break clause will tell you, they are often complicated matters with any number of pitfalls to trip up unsuspecting Tenants. A large proportion of break clauses are conditional upon the payment of “rents” and this case provides much needed clarification on that issue.
In 2010 the tenant served notice on the landlord that they wished to exercise their break option. The Landlord subsequently invoiced the tenant for the full Quarter’s rent as per the lease. The Tenant only paid from the quarter date up until the intended break. Following this, the Tenant emailed the Landlord asking for confirmation that no further rent was owed but the Landlord did not respond.
Following the break date the Landlord asserted that that the break was frustrated since the tenant had not paid the rents and thus not complied with the break clause. The Landlord argued that the full quarter’s rent should have been paid and the fact the tenant did not meant that at the break date, rents were outstanding.
The Tenant argued that it should not have been obliged to pay the full quarter’s rent. The Court ruled against this argument and said that all obligations under the lease subsisted until the actual termination date; the Landlord could not be certain the lease would determine on the break date as the Tenant may have failed to meet other break conditions. The Court also held that the Tenant had known the full quarter’s rent was due as the Landlord had invoiced them. For this reason the Court ruled that the break was invalid and the lease continued.
Following this the Tenant applied for permission to amend its defence to estoppel on the grounds that the Landlord had not responded to the Tenants’ email requesting confirmation that nothing further was owed. The Court stated that this argument would not succeed as it was not the Landlord’s duty to notify the tenant of its obligations.
It is vital to understand the conditions attached to a break at the earliest opportunity. Don’t wait until the last minute, as you may not leave yourself enough time to comply.
Take legal advice and surveyor’s advice on those conditions to determine what they actually mean in practical terms.
If the break is conditional upon the payment of “rents”, check the lease definition of rents. Often the word “rents” will include service charge demands and sometimes it will mean any sums demanded by the Landlord.
Don’t assume the Landlord has a duty to notify you of potential breaches. They don’t, and if they are trying to frustrate the break they will probably remain silent for that reason.
Don’t assume that common sense will prevail. It won’t. See item 2!
Take early advice on the conditions the tenant has to meet and the implications this may have.
Sunlife Europe Properties V Tiger Aspect Holdings Ltd.
This case reviewed a number of leading dilapidations principles which are relied upon in nearly all dilapidations negotiations . For this reason this case is considered to be one of the most important dilapidations judgements for years.
The principle issue was whether the repair covenants in a 35-year lease would have been met by yielding up the premises with adequately maintained 1970s equipment, or whether the equipment ought to have been upgraded by the tenant in line with modern standards.
Tiger Aspect Holdings Ltd was the tenant of a 1970s office building in Soho Square for 35 years. At the end of the Lease the Landlord submitted a dilapidations claim in the sum of £2.172 million. The tenant responded that the remedial works required amounted to no more than £700,000.00 and further argued that the claim should be capped by the diminution in the value of the Landlord’s reversion – valued at £240,000.00.
In his judgement, Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart made a number of references to the case of Ruxley V Forsyth ; he made clear that this case (Ruxley) set the general rule “that the cost of reinstatement is the appropriate measure of damage does not apply if the expenditure would be out of all proportion to the benefit obtained”. However there is another famous case which most surveyors rely on – Joyner V Weeks  which set out the principle that the cost of repair works is generally the correct measure of damages.
As you can see, it appears that the Judge in Sunlife Europe Properties V Tiger Aspect Holdings Ltd. seems to indicate that the principle set down in Joyner V Weeks is not correct. In addition the Judge has clarified the complicated issue of supersession (see f and g below). In essence, if the landlord has upgraded an element purely due to market forces, then he cannot recover the cost at all; however if the landlord’s upgrade was driven by the original disrepair but upgrading was the only viable repair then he can recover the costs for the original breach. This is in line with the PGF II SA v (1) Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Plc (2) London & Edinburgh Insurance Company Limited case.
This case set out some general rules for dilapidations claims which can be summarised as follows:
(a) a tenant is entitled to perform his covenants in the manner least onerous to him;
(b) a tenant is obliged to return the premises in good and tenantable condition and with mechanical and electrical installation systems in satisfactory working order. He is not required to deliver up the premises with new equipment or with equipment having any remaining life expectancy. The standard of repairs was to be judged by reference to the condition of the equipment and fittings at the time of the demise, not the condition which would be expected of an equivalent building at the expiry of the lease;
(c) where there were covenants against making alterations, the tenant is not entitled or obliged to deliver up the premises with any material alterations;
(d) the tenant is only obliged to replace broken plant on a like-for-like, or nearest equivalent, basis. He is not required to upgrade it in line with current standards (unless required to do so by statute and he is required to comply with statute);
(e) a landlord seeking the cost of repairs cannot recover a loss which he could reasonably have avoided, or the cost of remedial work which is disproportionate to the benefit obtained;
(f) where there is a need to to carry out works by virtue of a tenants breach, the fact that a landlord has carried out more extensive work does not, of itself, prevent him from recovering the cost of the work that would have been necessary to remedy the breach;
(g) where more extensive works (upgrading for example) have been carried out by virtue of market conditions a tenant is not liable for for those costs, even if they were in breach of the lease covenents;
(h) where a tenant is in breach of a repairing covenant, the court is entitled to infer that remedial work performed by the landlord was necessary to remedy the breach unless the tenant demonstrated to the contrary.
Managing Health and Safety in Construction – Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015
What it Means For Commercial Clients
The HSE Health and Safety website states,
“Virtually everyone involved in a construction project has legal duties under CDM 2015”.
This includes clients, both commercial and domestic clients, designers, contractors and workers.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) which came into force on 6 April 2015, replaced CDM 2007. These govern the management of health, safety and welfare on construction projects in the UK.
Avoiding Criminal Prosecution
The Regulations assume that the ‘client’ is competent to discharge their duties under the CDM regulations or has access to competent external advice as required by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of the Health and Safety at Works Regulations 1992.
Key duties of the ‘client’ are to make sure all those they appoint are competent and to appoint a Principle Designer and a Principle Contractor when necessary in accordance with the regulations. Failing to do this will leave the client legally liable for their duties as well and consequently the client will be considered to be carrying them out.
CDM 2015 states the legal responsibilities of the various parties and it is vital to understand that if the regulations are not carried out to the letter of the law, there could be potentially expensive and time consuming investigations by the HSE and in the worst-case scenario, Criminal Prosecution.
What Commercial Clients need to do – CDM 2015
Client duties are more onerous under the CDM 2015 compared to the 2007 regulations, and include making key appointments when required, such as the Principal Contractor and Principal Designer.
It is imperative that the client ensures that construction work can be carried out, so far as is reasonably practicable, without risks to health or safety and that they take reasonable steps to ensure that the principal contractor complies with any other principal contractor duties in regulations 12 to 14.
These requirements will apply to the project from the outset through to completion.
Select a consultant who will guide you through your duties
If you are not able to discharge your duties under the regulations, you will need to work with a consultant who can advise you on how to do so. It is worth remembering, the Principal Designer only has a duty to assist the client in collating the pre-construction information. The regulations assume the client is able to competently discharge all other duties.
This may sound quite daunting but help is at hand providing that you select a company with a proven track record for providing accurate, trusted advice – a company that knows CDM 2015 inside out.
At CHPK, we are particularly proud of our understanding of CDM 2015. In fact one of our Directors has recently achieved certified membership status with the APS (leading professional institution in the field of construction health and safety risk management). This is a notable achievement since currently only 43 individuals have achieved this accreditation out of 5,000 UK registered members. We believe this accolade truly highlights our awareness and understanding of Health and Safety compliance as well as our in-depth knowledge of CDM 2015.
CHPK is ISO 9001 certified and our Team is SMAS WorkSafe accredited and we are therefore fully compliant in all aspects of Health and Safety.
Please contact CHPK if you are looking for a company to competently advise and assist you in relation to fulfilling your legal duties and obligations under the Regulations as a Commercial client.
CHPK can offer our CDM advisory role as a stand-alone service or as part of a full project management service. We are also able to assist designers in fulfilling their obligations when appointed as Principal Designer.
020 7377 2739
How dilapidations matters have been dealt with over the past 10 years has changed dramatically. Attitudes of surveyors, tenants and landlords have changed over the years. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not. This is due to a number of matters, namely; the protocol, the recession and a young generation of dilapidations surveyors.
CHPK have always regarded ourselves experts in dilapidations matters. Our founder was a leading light in dilapidations and regularly lectured for the RICS. We now strive to continue that expertise in the practice.
You don’t need to simply trust us on this, we have the training to prove it. Both Tom and Gavin attended the inaugural RICS Certificate in Dilapidations course, are members of the RICS dilapidations forum and have attended the RICS Dilapidations conference each year for the last 7 years.
We make sure that we are completely up to date with dilapidations best practice now and we understand where dilapidations matters are going.
1 September marks the deadline by which theatre owners should have had their suspended plaster ceilings inspected by a specialist to ensure that they are safe. New guidance about this which was co-written with HSE following the collapse of the Apollo Theatre ceiling in 2013, can be found on the ABTT website at http://www.abtt.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/ABTT-Guidance-Note-20-19May2015.pdf.
If you have not managed to get your ceiling inspected within this period you are advised to contact your licensing authority (normally the appropriate Local Authority) to discuss how you can demonstrate that the ceiling is safe for an audience to sit beneath.
The hazards from suspended plaster ceilings are not limited to theatres or places of entertainment but will be present in any building with this type of construction. Those responsible for premises with suspended plaster ceilings are strongly advised to read the ABTT guidance referred to above.
“Out of Sight and Out of Mind”
As at the 1st October 2011 new legislation came into force within England and Wales seeking to deal with the uncertainty and confusion previously arising as to the responsibility for repairing private sewers and lateral drains. The definition of a lateral drain is a drain located outside of your property boundary. The definition of a private sewer is a sewer on private land but serves more than one property. Whilst for many, such consideration may not be a frequent occurrence there is a long history of dispute and recrimination arising from this matter.
Many properties discharge waste water into private sewers via lateral drains that ultimately discharge into the “public” drainage system. Often the responsibility for repair and unblocking of such private sewers and lateral drains is not identified in the title deeds! In an effort to deal with this matter the 1936 Public Health Act, which came into force during October 1937 identified the party/parties responsible for the repair of private sewers. In essence, it being the responsibility for the owner/occupier of the property to undertake any necessary repairs and then seek to recover a proportion of the cost from those parties “upstream” who also have benefit of the private sewer. This situation often proved to be a “nightmare” with the party undertaking and meeting the cost of repair unable to recover monies from other owners/occupiers.
During 2001 there was a government review of the situation concerning the ownership and maintenance of such drainage; it having been identified that within England and Wales there is circa 200,000 kilometres of such private sewers and lateral drains! Hence consideration commenced as to whether or not there should be a transfer of ownership to water and sewerage companies. The protocol came into force on the 1st October 2011 with the ownership of private sewers and lateral drains being transferred to the 10 water and sewerage companies. These companies now have the responsibility to repair and unblock, and the cost of such work being included collectively in the annual water and sewerage charges.
The water and sewerage companies have no responsibility to maintain, repair or un-block any drains which serve a single property that lie within the boundary and therefore it is the condition of these drains which is of great importance, particularly if these drains lie beneath private highways or exit the building via a basement and are therefore at considerable depth.
In relation to premises that are leased on “full repairing” terms, the extent of the demise is normally defined by a plan that indicates the boundary of the premises with a red line within; which the tenant’s repairing covenant applies. If the repair/blockage is outside the tenant’s demise, but remains within the landlord’s property then it is likely the landlord will remain liable for the repair subject to a ‘service charge’ provision in the lease.
Despite some clarity now being provided we strongly recommend that at acquisition of freehold or leasehold property interests the drainage system in-situ is identified and surveyed.
This issue can still be a legal and practical minefield and we recommend professional advice is sought by landlords and tenants either when taking an interest in a property or when an issue arises.
“Out of Sight and out of Mind” – perhaps not?