Building safety in the education sector

Five key changes made by the Building Safety Act 2022

The Building Safety Act 2022 (the Act), which was introduced following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, has far reaching implications for many organisations involved in the provision of residential accommodation, including the education sector.  

Many of the changes being brought about by the Act have come, or are about to come, into force.

Many of these depend on the height of the residential building. One important concept is that of a higher-risk building which is a building that is 18 metres or 7 storeys in height and which contains at least two residential units. This will apply to student accommodation in such buildings.

Here are five key points that educational organisations need to know about the Act.

1. All occupied higher-risk buildings must be registered before 1 October 2023

All occupied higher-risk buildings have to be registered with the building safety regulator (the Regulator), who is part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This will usually be by the freeholder or an entity with repairing obligations for the common parts of the building - known as the principal accountable person or PAP. It must be done by 1 October 2023. Registration is through a digital portal that you can access by clicking here.

The following information must be provided upon registration:

  • The building’s address
  • The year the building was built
  • The number of floors in the building which are at or above ground level
  • The height of the building in metres
  • The number of residential units

There is a fee of £251 to register.

Within 28 days of registration, key building information about the higher-risk building must also be provided to the Regulator. The government’s guidance and the HSE website suggest that this information can be provided by the end of September 2023 (even if registration took place more than 28 days before the end of September).

Key building information is more detailed than the information needed to register. It includes:

  • Details of the principal and any subordinate use of the building and whether there has been a change to the principal use since construction
  • The material used in the external walls, the roof and the structure
  • The number of storeys below ground
  • The number of staircases
  • The type of energy supply and the storage system
  • The type of evacuation strategy
  • A list of fire and smoke control equipment and where that equipment is located

It will be an offence to allow a higher-risk building to be occupied without first being registered.

2. From 1 October 2023: Before starting construction works on higher-risk buildings approval will be needed from the Regulator

From 1 October 2023, developers must apply to the Regulator before starting work on any higher-risk building.  

The fact that planning permission has been obtained will make no difference, the approval of the Regulator will still be required. It has been suggested that this could take about 12 weeks to obtain.

3. From 1 October 2023: All new higher-risk buildings must be registered with the Regulator before they are occupied

All new higher risk buildings must be registered by the principal accountable person from 1 October 2023 before they are occupied. At some point, it is not yet entirely clear when and it may well not be from 1 October 2023, an application will need to be made for a certificate of completion from the Regulator, before a building can be registered. The certificate of completion from the Regulator is different from a certificate of practical completion. It seems that it will only be possible to apply for a certificate of completion once a certificate of practical completion (or similar) has been issued. It has been suggested that it could take the Regulator 12 weeks to issue a certificate of completion.

Consideration will need to be given to the effect of this potential delay as when it will be possible to occupy new higher-risk buildings.

As from 1 October 2023 it will be an offence for a new higher-risk building to be occupied before it has been registered with the Regulator.

4. Second staircases: Residential buildings over 30 metres in height (in force in London, not yet in force outside London)

As from 13 February 2023, all planning applications in Greater London must provide for a second staircase in residential buildings over 30 metres high. 

Outside London, there is currently no such requirement, but the government has been consulting on the introduction of a second staircase in residential buildings over 30 metres in height and it seems highly likely that a requirement for one will be introduced. Some of those that responded to the consultation suggested that there should be a requirement for a second staircase in residential buildings over 18 metres high, so it is possible that the height requirement will be lower than 30 metres. There is also the thorny question of what to do with existing residential buildings over a certain height that do not currently have a second staircase. Will they need to be retrofitted?  If so, that could be costly.

5. Building Liability Orders: Where there is a building safety risk – no height requirement

For those who have undertaken works to rectify what are known as "building safety risks – ie a risk to the safety of people in or about a building arising from the spread of fire or structural failure", then where the original developer or contractor is liable but unable to pay for the rectification works, an order can be made against associated companies of that developer or contractor (as defined in the Act) holding them liable as well. There is no height requirement for a building liability order, nor is it apparently limited to residential buildings.


This is a new piece of legislation which has wide ranging consequences. Much of it will apply to the education sector so it is important to keep careful eye on it.

To keep up to date see the regular construction and engineering blogs on building safety or look out for our posts on the construction and engineering LinkedIn page.

Our content explained

Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

Mills & Reeve Sites navigation
A tabbed collection of Mills & Reeve sites.
My Mills & Reeve navigation
Subscribe to, or manage your My Mills & Reeve account.
My M&R


Register for My M&R to stay up-to-date with legal news and events, create brochures and bookmark pages.

Existing clients

Log in to your client extranet for free matter information, know-how and documents.


Mills & Reeve system for employees.