Building Safety: extension of enforcement for non-compliance with building regulations

On 1 October 2023, the Building Safety Act significantly changed and extended the rights of enforcement and potential sanctions for non-compliance with building regulations. There are two key elements to these changes:

  • Increased enforcement period: Where work is not in compliance with the building regulations, then the local authority or building control authority can require the works to be removed or altered. Prior to 1 October 2023, such a requirement could be made up to 12 months after the works had completed. This enforcement period has been extended to 10 years after the works have completed. See section 39(3) of the Building Safety Act 2022.
  • Stronger sanctions: Previously, non-compliance was a summary only offence with a fine up to £5,000 plus a maximum of fine of £50 per day of default after conviction. This offence now carries an unlimited fine and/or imprisonment of up to two years plus a further fine per day of default after conviction (such fine being up to level 1 on the standard scale). See section 39 of the Building Safety Act 2022.

Non-compliance covers work where:

  • plans or an application were required and not deposited or made and approved;
  • work is carried out notwithstanding any rejection of the deposited plans or application made and approved; or
  • work is otherwise carried out in a way which is contrary to the plans deposited or application made and approved.

This change is not retrospective, so any works completed prior to 1 October 2023 will remain subject to the 12 month enforcement period and reduced sanctions.

This may well have an impact on the Professional Indemnity Insurance market and appointment terms for professional consultants and purchasers should be wary, especially where a practical completion certificate has not been issued.

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