Our proposals to change building safety legislation and how you can get involved.
About the White Paper
The Safer Buildings in Wales’ White Paper sets out our proposals for changes to the way we design, build, manage and live in multi-occupied buildings in Wales.
The tragedy at Grenfell Tower made it clear that we need to take important steps to improve building safety so that residents can be confident their homes are safe and well managed.
A White Paper is a policy document produced by the Welsh Government that sets out our proposals for future legislation. It provides an opportunity for consultation and discussion with those interested in, or affected by, the proposed changes.
The main changes we are proposing that will affect residents
We want to make changes that mean residents can have more of a say in the matters that affect their homes and how they are managed. These include:
- creating new roles for those responsible for safety of the building so it is clear who is accountable and what you can expect from them
- a duty on those who own or manage your building to promote building safety for the benefit of all residents
- sharing essential safety information with you such as what fire safety measures are in your building (e.g. fire doors, sprinklers etc) and advice on what to do in the event of a fire
- information on how you can contact those who manage your building to raise a concern or make a complaint
- information on steps you can take to promote safety in your building.
How the proposals in the White Paper may apply to your building
Many of the proposals in the White Paper apply to all multi-occupied residential buildings in Wales, whether they are purpose-built or conversions. However, we are proposing to have two categories of buildings, with greater requirements on Category 1 buildings than Category 2 buildings.
We propose Category 1 buildings are those buildings with six storeys or that are 18m or more in height.
Category 2 buildings will be residential properties with two or more dwellings that are no more than 18m in height.
How the proposals will apply to existing buildings and new ones built after the new Building Safety Regime is introduced
The majority of the proposals that will change the way buildings are designed and built will apply to new buildings or existing buildings that go through the building regulations process. However, we are also proposing to make lots of changes to the way occupied buildings are managed. These changes will apply to new and existing buildings.
Responsibility for building safety
We are proposing to introduce new roles to make it clear who is responsible for ensuring building safety under the new system. They will be called ‘dutyholders’. The dutyholder roles can be filled by either an individual or a legal entity such as an organisation. We are planning to create two new roles:
- The Accountable Person
All multi-occupied buildings will have an Accountable Person. They will have legal responsibility for the safety of the whole building used for residential purposes. Their duties will include:
- a duty to register all in-scope buildings under their ownership / control;
- undertaking relevant fire and risk assessments;
- probity and responsible working;
- ensure that there are sufficient funds to address building safety issues
- maintaining proper engagement with others; and
- informing and supporting residents.
- The Building Safety Manager
In Category 1 buildings only there will also be a Building Safety Manager, the Accountable Person can take this role on themselves if suitably qualified. The Building Safety Manager will support the Accountable Person to meet the new safety requirements and will have a more practical day to day responsibility for management of the building. This role could be taken on by an organisation like a managing agent or competent individual. Their duties will include:
- creating, reviewing and maintaining building information (referred to as ‘the Golden Thread’);
- planning and monitoring any maintenance or improvement works;
- ensuring any third parties engaged to work on the building are suitably competent and qualified to do so;
- cooperating with other dutyholders and enforcement bodies; and
- engaging with, and informing, residents (including proactively promoting building safety).
The Accountable Person must be registered so that we know which buildings they are responsible for. If they have a Building Safety Manager they must also make sure they are registered too.
Training or qualifications for the Accountable Person or Building Safety Manager
We want to make sure that dutyholders have the required expertise to fulfil their roles. We are still developing the training and qualification requirements but we are proposing that the Accountable Person and Building Safety Manger obtain licenses so that they can demonstrate they have undertaken relevant training and understand their duties under the new system. The training and qualification requirements will be different depending on the category of building and the role they are taking on.
We are also proposing to introduce a licensing system for those involved in the management of buildings, for example, managing agents and letting agents to ensure that the services people receive improves and is professionalised.
How the proposals will make your building safer
The proposals will make it clear who is responsible for maintaining safety in your building and how you can contact them if there are any problems, or escalate problems if they are not addressed. We also want to strengthen the way some current safety measures are provided. For example, we want to make important changes to the way fire risk assessments are carried out. We want them to be undertaken more frequently, by someone with the right qualifications and for those responsible to record the risks identified and steps taken to prevent or mitigate them so that this information can be made available to residents.
What you can do to ensure your building is safe
All residents have an important role to play in ensuring their buildings are as safe as possible. Unsafe behaviour can lead, or contribute, to a fire and other safety risks. As well as requiring dutyholders to ensure they reduce the safety risk, we are proposing additional responsibilities for residents to support the safety of the building for everyone.
We are proposing a requirement on residents to cooperate with the Accountable Person and support them in fulfilling their duties in relation to building safety. For example, this could include:
- allowing an approved person to access to your property for safety checks or work to be carried out
- providing reasonable information on works you have undertaken within your property
- seeking permission before you undertake work in your property that may compromise fire safety measures.
We are also proposing a requirement on residents (and others) not to knowingly breach the ‘compartmentation’ of their property. Compartmentation is the ability of a building to contain a fire where it starts for long enough to allow it to be extinguished. Examples of breaching the compartmentation include:
- drilling through an external wall, any part of the internal structure separating one flat from another, a roof or ceiling void, or a common area (including front doors) without applying adequate and appropriate fire-stopping;
- modifying fire doors or replacing the fire doors with doors which do not adequately resist the spread of fire;
- tampering with or removing self-closing devices on fire doors
- installing windows or window vents which do not adequately resist the spread of fire.
Additional costs for residents as a result of the proposals in the White Paper
There will be a cost to the new Building Safety Regime. However, we believe these costs are necessary and reasonable for things that will present a measurable increase in safety.
We know that many residents are currently facing significant costs due to issues that have been identified with their buildings. We are currently working to develop a funding offer to address existing issues relating to cladding, building defects such as compartmentation and fire breaks, fire suppression systems (sprinklers) and fire evacuation sounders. We will provide further details on the funding available and how to access it as soon as we can.
Funding for remediation work your building needs now
Our proposals do not relate to any remediation work required on existing buildings. They are about major reforms to the way we design, build, manage and live in properties, to make buildings safer in the future and make sure that we avoid these types of problems occurring again.
You can find more information on these proposals and have your say on the Safer Buildings in Wales consultation.
Quick Read and Easy Read versions of the White Paper are also available.
Building Safety Team
Cathays Park Cardiff