Building managers have been told that service charges relating to building safety ‘must be reasonable’

The government and the Building Safety Regulator have warned that charges associated with building safety case reports ‘must be reasonable’.

lee rowley portrait

Source: Parliament

Lee Rowley, Minister of State for Housing, Planning and Building Safety

In a joint letter to building managers, housing minister Lee Rowley and Phillip White, the director of building safety at the Health and Safety Executive, said they have been made aware of ‘unacceptably high’ charges for services related to producing safety case reports in recent months.

Rowley and White noted that some are implying that new assessments need to be commissioned for every aspect of building safety, like fire engineering and building surveys, which can then lead to unreasonable management fees.

The letter acknowledged that pulling together evidence to produce the safety case report for some buildings ‘can be a challenging process’ and that building managers may need to commission investigations in some cases.

However, it stressed that leaseholders should be able to understand what they’re being charged for and why, and that existing building safety assessments should be used where possible.

Under the Building Safety Act (2022), from April this year, anyone who is a “principal accountable person” for an occupied higher-risk building (HRB) is required to submit a building safety case report to the Building Safety Regulator (BSR).

Safety case reports detail potential risks related to fire safety or structural failure in a high-rise building.

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The letter states that managers of high-rise buildings should have already been keeping much of the information required for safety case reports, noting that “it would be extremely unusual to have none of this information to hand already”.

It adds that accountable persons should be able to justify any costs incurred by leaseholders due to building safety case reports.

The housing minister and director of building safety issued a warning that they will “continue to monitor very closely the actions of those within this sector and, should we see evidence of inappropriate behaviour, will not hesitate to call it out publicly in the future”.

They added: “Most of this sector is already doing the right thing; others should take heed of this letter and the advice contained therein immediately”.