Clause 97 - Access to premises

Building Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 19th October 2021.

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Photo of Eddie Hughes Eddie Hughes Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 2:30 pm, 19th October 2021

I beg to move amendment 56, in clause 97, page 104, line 40, after “premises” insert

“who is aged 16 or over”.

This amendment provides that requests to residents to enter premises made under this clause may only be made to residents who are aged 16 or over.

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Conservative, Basingstoke

With this it will be convenient to discuss clause stand part.

Photo of Eddie Hughes Eddie Hughes Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

Amendment 56 is minor and technical. It will ensure that a request for access by the accountable person can be made only to a resident aged 16 or over. The age of 16 is used, as opposed to 18, because it is the youngest age at which a resident may be granted a tenancy. The amendment will bring clause 97 in line with clause 95, where duties on residents and owners apply only to those aged 16 and over, and I commend it to the Committee.

The purpose of clause 97 is to provide the person responsible for managing building safety in high-rise buildings—the accountable person—with a means by which they can access premises in the building. The Government are committed to ensuring that residents, their homes and their buildings remain safe from fire and structural risks. Clause 97 will enable accountable persons responsible for managing safety in high-rise buildings to carry out their duties effectively, minimising the risk of fire or structural safety risk.

The clause is closely linked to clause 95, which deals with duties on residents and owners. Residents aged 16 and over and owners of residential units are required to comply with the three duties. The duties require all residents, irrespective of tenure, not to act in a way or behave in a manner that creates a significant risk of fire or structural failure in the building; to refrain from interfering with safety items that form part of the common area; and to comply with a request made by the accountable person for information reasonably required to carry out their duties.

The accountable person can request access to premises only to assess or manage building safety risks or to determine whether a resident has breached their duties. To be enforceable, a request by the accountable person must be made in writing, with at least 48 hours’ notice, explaining why access is required and giving a reasonable time for when access to the premises is intended. If the resident refuses access, the accountable person can apply to the county court for an order requiring the resident to give access and, if necessary, allowing the accountable person to gather necessary information, such as by taking photographs or measurements.

Amendment 56 agreed to.

Clause 97, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.