Fire Safety Bill receives Royal Assent

May 5, 2021

Following agreement by both Houses on the text of the Fire Safety Bill, it received Royal Assent on 29 April 2021. The Bill is now an Act of Parliament (law).

The Bill had returned again to House of Lords for consideration of Commons amendments last Wednesday, in the latest (and final) round of Parliamentary ‘ping pong’.

MPs voted 242 to 153 to defeat an amendment to the Bill, which sought to protect the owners of blocks of flats from passing the costs of required safety upgrades on to leaseholders.

The Bill, which has gone through many rounds of votes, aims to toughen safety rules after 72 died in the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in west London.

The new legislation modifies a previous law to clarify that building owners must manage and reduce the risk of fire in their properties. The government was under pressure last week to get it passed before the end of the parliamentary session on Thursday.

Thousands of leaseholders are currently facing large bills to pay for safety improvements, including fire breaks, new balconies, safer doors and sprinkler systems.

Ministers have been defeated several times in the House of Lords while attempting to pass the legislation as the issue of who should pay for additional safety works became a sticking point.

Earlier this year, the government announced a new £3.5bn support package, with ministers insisting no leaseholders in high-rise blocks in England will face charges for the removal of unsafe cladding.

However, critics of the government’s response have argued this will not cover all of the costs faced by leaseholders, which they said have emerged through no fault of their own.

Housing minister Chris Pincher said the Bill “is an important first step in our legislative programme delivering these recommendations and I cannot stress enough… the vital importance of this legislation and the ramifications if it fails as a result of outstanding remediation amendments.”

Speaking at the House of Commons last week, Mr Pincher said there was not enough time to redraft the Bill to both stop leaseholders from footing the bill and address concerns with the existing amendment.

Also last week, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced it has commissioned the British Standards Institution (BSI) to draft a code of practice for assessing external cladding.

Following agreement by both Houses on the text of the Fire Safety Bill, it received Royal Assent on 29 April 2021. The Bill is now an Act of Parliament (law). The Bill had returned again to House of Lords for consideration of Commons amendments last Wednesday, in the latest (and final) round of Parliamentary ‘ping pong’. MPs voted 242 to 153 to defeat an amendment to the Bill, which sought to protect the owners of blocks of flats from passing the costs of required safety upgrades on to leaseholders. The Bill, which has gone through many rounds of votes, aims to toughen safety rules after 72 died in the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in west London. The new legislation modifies a previous law to clarify that building owners must manage and reduce the risk of fire in their properties. The government was under pressure last week to get it passed before the end of the parliamentary session on Thursday. Thousands of leaseholders are currently facing large bills to pay for safety improvements, including fire breaks, new balconies, safer doors and sprinkler systems. Ministers have been defeated several times in the House of Lords while attempting to pass the legislation as the issue of who should pay for additional safety works became a sticking point. Earlier this year, the government announced a new £3.5bn support package, with ministers insisting no leaseholders in high-rise blocks in England will face charges for the removal of unsafe cladding. However, critics of the government's response have argued this will not cover all of the costs faced by leaseholders, which they said have emerged through no fault of their own. Housing minister Chris Pincher said the Bill “is an important first step in our legislative programme delivering these recommendations and I cannot stress enough... the vital importance of this legislation and the ramifications if it fails as a result of outstanding remediation amendments.” Speaking at the House of Commons last week, Mr Pincher said there was not enough time to redraft the Bill to both stop leaseholders from footing the bill and address concerns with the existing amendment. Also last week, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced it has commissioned the British Standards Institution (BSI) to draft a code of practice for assessing external cladding.

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