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The Health and Safety Executive, the body in charge of introducing the Building Safety Regulator, has spoken of the importance of having residents at the heart of the building safety regime.
Speaking at the Housing Quality Network annual conference, Sarah Mallagh, Building Safety Regulator Programme Policy Lead at the Health and Safety Executive, insisted that residents are “an important part of how the regulator will function”.
She added: “Residents being at the heart will allow the Building Safety Regulator to deliver its resident-related functions and ensure duty holders comply with their responsibilities to engage with residents.
“One of the requirements of the Building Safety Regulator will be to have a statutory Residents' Panel that will be an important part of how the regulator will function.”
Mallagh said that the belief was that the Building Safety Bill would take around nine to 12 months to go through parliament, with the Regulator needing another 12 months to come into force.
But she was keen to stress the body will be working hard within that time to ensure it can hit the ground running.
Setting out the main functions of the Building Safety Regulator, she said:
- Lead the delivery of the new, more stringent regulatory regime for buildings in scope
- Promote competence, including industry and professionals working on buildings, and building control bodies
- Provide oversight for all buildings focused on using evidence to better manage risks
On what resident engagement the Building Safety Regulator has undertaken so far, Mallagh mentioned the creation of a Resident Engagement Group in April, which has a mix of private and social residents.
In December, the plan is to set up “an Interim Residents' Panel” (10-15 members).
Mallagh added: “We are proposing that panel is supporting by a wider 100-150 residents that give a wider view.
“The new Regulator will regularly consult with the Resident Panel around issues, guidance and revising and regulation.”
Echoing themes that the conference heard over the three days, the Building Safety Regulator Programme Policy Lead was keen to stress that landlords can start working on this now and to take “the learning” from the current landscape.
When asked by delegates whether it was clear where it fitted in and where the new regulator overlapped with other bodies, Mallagh said: “It is clear that it is a crowded space at some level (in terms of complaints dealt with by BSR and Housing Ombudsman). There is something to be learned about signposting properly.
“We need to work with other players in the sector to make sure residents journey is as good as possible.
“We have had conversations with the Housing Ombudsman about their Resident Panel and learning the lessons from that. We need to understand better where residents go to find their information.”
And when asked about fines, she said the focus should be on safety, not on enforcement.
“If landlords are managing their buildings correctly, there is nothing to be worried about. We will issue fines, compliance notices etc. accordingly.
“We would much rather landlords put their money into achieving safety, rather than paying us fines.”