The Law Society’s Conveyancing and Land Law Committee have produced a guide for members on the Building Safety Act 2022


Following the fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington in 2017 and the subsequent Hackitt Report Building a Safer Future the building safety regime for blocks of flats was reviewed. The way the fire spread so quickly was determined to be caused, at least in part, by the cladding materials covering parts of the exterior walls of the block.

These reviews led to the introduction of the following legislation:

  1. The Building Safety Act 2022. The aim was to strengthen the compliance and enforcement regime governing the construction and refurbishment of buildings. For example, the Act extended the powers of local authorities to deal with building regulations violations.
  2. The Fire Safety Act 2021. The Act sought to clarify that, in a shared block of flats, the designated responsible person also must consider a building’s external walls and flat entrance doors in their fire risk assessment.

The Building Safety Act 2022 has emphasised the need for anyone thinking of buying a flat, or lending money to buy a flat impacted by the legislation, to investigate the fire safety aspects of the flat and attempt to establish how the costs of remediating any defects are likely to fall.

Affected properties

Most of the affected blocks are high rise buildings and are therefore found mainly in cities. There have been different assessments of how many flats in England & Wales are affected. The Sunday Times reported on 9 July 2023 that 91% of unsafe flats were not yet fixed leaving approximately 660,000 flats “in danger”.

In terms of the number of blocks affected, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) estimates there are more than 9,000 high-rise (18 metres or taller) and medium-rise (11-18 metres) residential buildings that may require remediation.

The costs of remediation are unknown but in 2020 DLUHC’s predecessor department estimated that it may cost £15bn. Government have pledged £5.1bn towards remediation costs. Some others have suggested that likely costs were moving towards £50bn – a figure that government did not accept when it was proposed in 2021.

In July 2023 Construction News indicated that the combination of delays in accessing government funding, a rise in labour costs post-Brexit and rises in material costs in an environment of increased demand, has increased project budgets.

The public are likely to be aware of this issue as there has been comment in the media about fire safety, especially in relation to ‘cladding’. Campaigns have been run by affected leaseholders to raise awareness of their difficulties in trying to sell their flats. Various attempts have been made to help them to sell their flats involving the lenders, the valuers and government. Government is keen that the market in these flats should be opened up to enable sales to take place.

This is hopefully a time limited issue, so that once all the affected buildings have been remediated, the flats will fall back into the general housing stock to be dealt with in the usual way.

The guide

‘Building Safety Act 2022: a guide for conveyancers’ was produced at the request of members to assist in acting for sellers and buyers of leasehold properties where the Act applies.

The building safety legislation is complex, with ongoing amendments to the existing legislation. This guide will help practitioners make sense of the improvements to the legislation since it was introduced and make informed decisions about taking on matters with building safety issues.