Understanding Your Duties as a New Freeholder under the Building Safety Act 2022 in the UK

Becoming a freeholder of a residential building in the United Kingdom comes with a range of responsibilities and obligations. As of the year 2022, a landmark legislation known as the Building Safety Act has been enacted to ensure the safety and well-being of residents in multi-occupancy buildings that fall within scope of 18 metres and above. This act has far-reaching implications for new freeholders, as it introduces a comprehensive framework to address fire and structural safety concerns.

This article will explore the key duties and obligations that new freeholders must be aware of under the Building Safety Act 2022. Understanding these responsibilities is vital to ensuring the safety of occupants and compliance with the law. By familiarizing yourself with these requirements, you can play an active role in safeguarding residents' welfare and maintaining the building's integrity.

The Building Safety Act 2022 represents a significant shift in the approach to fire and structural safety regulations, especially in the wake of tragic incidents like the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. The Act introduces a more robust system for the oversight and management of high-rise residential buildings, enhancing transparency, accountability and the protection of residents’ rights.


As a new freeholder, your responsibilities encompass various stages of a building’s life cycle, from its initial design and construction to ongoing maintenance and remediation if necessary. The Act places a strong emphasis on proactive risk management, fostering collaboration among stakeholders, and ensuring the competence of those involved in the safety processes.

Throughout this article, we will outline the key duties that fall upon new freeholders, including the appointment of a competent building safety manager, carrying out regular safety inspections, and maintaining an up-to-date register of the building’s safety information. We will also touch upon the requirements for engaging with residents, communicating relevant safety information, and developing a comprehensive fire strategy:

Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 outlines several fire safety responsibilities for Responsible Persons (RPs). Here are the key duties:

Recording the fire risk assessment: All RPs must fully record their completed fire risk assessment. This requirement expands on the previous rule that only significant findings needed to be recorded. It eliminates the limitation that RPs were only required to record the risk assessment and fire safety arrangements if there were five or more employees or if subject to a licensing or alterations notice. Additionally, RPs must record the name and organization of the fire risk assessor if one was used. This information ensures clarity for enforcing authorities and allows for sharing with residents and incoming RPs.

Cooperation and coordination between RPs: In multi-occupancy or mixed-use buildings, it is crucial for all relevant RPs to work together to ensure a cohesive approach to fire safety for the entire building, beyond their specific areas of responsibility. RPs must take reasonably practicable steps to identify other RPs and inform them of their responsibilities. This includes individual businesses within a commercial or mixed-use building and the landlord with overall responsibility for building safety. Once identified, the RPs must exchange names, UK-based addresses, and individual responsibilities for fire safety.

Cooperation with Accountable Persons: For higher-risk residential buildings over 18m or at least seven storeys, RPs must take reasonable steps to identify the accountable persons and/or the principal accountable person for the block. The accountable person is a new duty holder under the Building Safety Act and is the individual or organization that owns or has a legal obligation to repair any common parts of the building.

Provision of information to new RPs: RPs are required to share all relevant fire safety information with incoming RPs to maintain a continuous record of fire safety throughout the building's lifetime. The information to be shared includes the fire risk assessment and review records, the identity of the person who assisted in the risk assessment, names and UK addresses of all RPs, identity of the Accountable Person, and any information under Regulation 38 of the Building Regulations 2010.

For buildings containing two or more sets of domestic premises, additional duties apply:

Provision of information to residents: RPs must provide residents with information about fire safety measures in place, any identified risks from the fire risk assessment, means of escape, measures to restrict the spread of fire, emergency procedures, the RP's name and UK address, the identity of anyone assisting with the risk assessment, and the identity of competent persons nominated by the RP to implement firefighting measures. Furthermore, any risks identified by other RPs in the building should also be communicated to residents.

These responsibilities aim to strengthen fire safety and ensure collaboration between RPs and other stakeholders to enhance overall building safety

In addition to the responsibilities outlined earlier, Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 also introduces changes to fire safety legislation in relation to offences. Here are the details:

Offences under the FSO: Article 32 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) addresses the offences that can be committed by a Responsible Person (RP) while carrying out their duties under the FSO. Section 156 of the Building Safety Act strengthens the penalties for certain offences. The following offences now carry increased fines:

Intentionally deceptive impersonation of a fire inspector: The fine for this offence has been increased from level 3 (£1,000) to level 5 (unlimited). This change aims to provide a stronger deterrent against impersonating a fire inspector.

Failure to comply with specific requirements imposed by a fire inspector: The fine for this offence has also been increased from level 3 to level 5. This ensures that non-compliance with a fire inspector’s specific requirements carries a more significant penalty.

Failure to comply with requirements relating to the installation of luminous tube signs: The fine for this offence has been raised from level 3 to level 5. Luminous tube signs are used for emergency wayfinding and safety purposes, and non-compliance with installation requirements will now result in a more substantial penalty.

By increasing the fines for these offences to level 5 (unlimited), the Building Safety Act aims to align the penalties with other offences and provide a stronger incentive for RPs to comply with fire safety requirements. These changes are intended to promote compliance and discourage non-compliance with fire safety regulations

Navigating the Building Safety Act and other relevant legislation can seem overwhelming at first, but it is crucial to familiarise yourself with the obligations it places upon you as a freeholder. By fulfilling your duties diligently and cooperating with the relevant authorities and stakeholders, you will contribute to creating a safer and more secure living environment for all residents.

Andrew Bull, Head of Client Services, 4site Consulting


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