By Sarah Epton, Health & Safety Compliance Manager at SBA Property Management
This year’s ARMA Annual Conference focused on business challenges and opportunities for managing agents following the introduction of the new Building Safety Regulator.
Key topics up for discussion among property managers in attendance were building health and safety checks, housing associations, resident engagement, career development opportunities with The Property Institute, engaging with residents, PropTech, wellbeing and even the menopause.
A topic of key importance, as always, was health and safety. Following the introduction of the Building Safety Act 2022, it is more important now than ever that managing agents clearly understand their responsibilities.
Complying with the Building Safety Act 2022 is about far more than the production of building safety cases for individual properties – managing agents and landlords must implement new processes, approaches and innovative thinking across their organisations.
Managing agents must carry out regular checks to stay on top of legislation changes and inform their leaseholders and tenants of any upcoming changes with supporting guidance and information.
The Building Safety Health Check panel at this year’s ARMA Annual Conference offered an insight into the legal, health and safety and operational considerations relating to new building safety regulations.
The introduction of the new rigorous building safety regime for certain residential buildings imposes more requirements on those identified as “higher-risk buildings”. Following the introduction, a common trend has been a significant influx of queries over the last six months from managing agents and clients.
The industry has reacted well to this, with a desire to carry out regulations in the correct manner. For example, registering the relevant building with the Building Safety Regulator by the principal accountable person and identifying the right person who has a legal obligation to repair relevant parts of a building (structurally or externally).
To help assess assets, GAP analysis has also been an instrumental tool that’s being used to identify areas of concern and determine the approach. The analysis helps both boutique and large property management firms take stock of a building and identify potential gaps and areas for improvement or development. It is very much a strategic review which enables forward planning to help businesses align with the latest legislation and take stock.
One area of note that all property management specialists should consider is how compliance should be proportionate to the nature of each building.
The scope of compliance will always vary on the type of building – whether it’s a high rise or a listed building and this must always be considered when approaching conducting safety health checks. There is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach and businesses need to ensure their approach is bespoke and tailored to the needs of the building in question.
Another key consideration is communicating with residents and having an effective engagement strategy in place. According to the Building Safety Act, engagement strategies should be reviewed at least every two years and, in some cases, might require it to be refreshed more often. A key challenge here is engagement levels can sometimes be low which can hinder the effectiveness of the strategy when informing residents of the obligation to fire safety and maintaining a safe space for all.
To find out how SBA Property Management can support you with building safety checks, visit: https://sbaproperty.com/block-management/.