Fire Safety Act will affect the work of sales and letting agents

Safety and compliance expert, Bureau Veritas is encouraging landlords and duty holders to prepare for the Fire Safety Act 2021 which will make significant changes to fire safety regulation – describing the legislation as a new era for building safety.

Given Royal Assent on 29th April this year, the Act 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 more than 18 metres or six/seven stories in height and seeks to respond to the outcomes of the Hackitt Review.

The Act is not yet in force but is likely to come in by the end of this year or early in 2022. It will have ramifications for agents letting or selling certain properties and for conveyancers dealing with the sale of such properties.

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 on 5th July 2021.

John O’Sullivan MBE, Technical Director – Fire Consultancy at Bureau Veritas, says:

“The approval of the Fire Safety Act marks a significant step in the right direction to mitigate the fire risk in relation to life safety and building safety and is one of the biggest outcomes of the Grenfell Inquiry to date. 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, its essential these are done properly.”

The Fire Safety Act also provides a foundation for secondary legislation to take forward recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase one report, including lift inspections, reviewing evacuation plans and fire safety instruction for residents.

The upcoming Building Safety Bill, which was placed before parliament on 5th July 2021, and is expected to be passed into law by 2022, this is likely to include parts of phase two recommendations of the Grenfell Inquiry that will enact a change in Building Regulations.

O’Sullivan continues: “With these new changes enforced by the Fire Safety Act, and more updates to come in the near future, it may seem a daunting task for landlords or a residential buildings duty holders to keep on top of the regulations to ensure risk assessments are accurate. However, third party health and safety firms, like Bureau Veritas, are able to conduct compliant fire risk assessments and make recommendations for necessary changes to mitigate the risk to ensure homes remain safe.”


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  1. Will2

    I guess this is going to have a significant impact on vaules of property affected. I can forsee service charge demands rising significantly and in some cases unaffordably which could drive down the property value of those who choose high rise living.

    1. CountryLass

      I suspect it is mainly going to be older ones which fall foul of these, like the awful high-rise flats in my town that you cannot get a mortgage on because of the construction, and very few agents will take them on to sell or rent as staff do not want to go in to them to do viewings! I did once, and refused to again, 12th floor, lift looked rusty and broken and stank, with stains and dirt everywhere. The view was great, and the size of the flat was huge in comparison to the flat I lived in on the other side of town, but it would have to be a choice between that and the street before I lived there.

      1. Woodentop

        Many owned by local authorities too.

        1. A W

          It will be interesting to see how this affects the social housing sector as they tend to be exempt from rather a lot of legislation these days.


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