Owners must take more accountability for building safety
Making responsibilities clear
The Building Standards Enforcement and Sanctions consultation sets out proposals to strengthen existing sanctions and increase penalties for building owners who do not carry out their duties under the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 (the Act) and the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004.
The Scottish Government stated that it wants to send a clear message that non-compliance can have serious impacts on the health and safety of residents.
Deterrents could go further
Starting work without a building warrant or not following the building warrant is already an offence and can incur a fine between £5,000 and £10,000.
The amendments propose:
- increasing the potential fine to £50,000
- introducing a two-year custodial sentence
- have an option for a fine and/or custodial sentence
Propertymark supports these amendments and suggests Ministers also consider introducing an additional daily fine for owners who continually fail to meet the requirements of any notice. This would mostly be applied to owners who continue work after a stop notice has been issued.
New offences for owners
According to the Scottish Government, local authorities report the requirement for a new or newly converted building to have a completion certificate is being ignored, for example, by building owners allowing occupation of the building for rent /short-term lets.
Currently, local authorities are only able to act against the people occupying the building, but this will be changed to allow the owner to be held accountable.
We agree this will effectively address the issue, encourage compliance from owners, and ensure more buildings meet up-to-date building and fire safety standards.
More options to enforce building warrants
Local authorities will be given new powers to remove non-authorised work or suspend work through a stop notice. It is also clarified that authorities can still act against non-compliance even though a completion certificate has been accepted.
Time limits for local authorities to act against non-compliant buildings are also being proposed which is in line with similar legislation in England which sets a ten-year cut-off. Although this may encourage local authorities to prioritise enforcement, it would be counterproductive to prevent councils from addressing safety risks after an arbitrary time limit. Propertymark therefore recommends the time limit proposal be dropped.