The Multi-Storey Building Act 1988 was passed in response to the collapse of a block of flats in Sandymount. It applied only to buildings of five or more stories, built before 1950. A basement is counted as a storey for this purpose. The Act predated the adoption of national building regulations and a system of building control, in June 1992.
Local authorities were obliged to compile a register of multi-story buildings in their functional areas. A certificate had to be provided to the local authority, by the owner or occupier of buildings in existence when the Act commenced, by a set date. Building constructed after the commencement of the Act but before commencement of the Building Control Act, required submission of a certificate to the local authority prior to being occupied.
In the case of each multi-storied building completed before commencement of the 1988 Act, the local authority is to serve a notice on the person appearing to be the owner, requiring him to furnish a certificate in accordance with the Act. The local authority has powers to enable it to ascertain the ownership of buildings for the purpose of the Act. It may serve notices, requiring persons to identify their nature of the interest in the property concerned.
Where a notice was served by the local authority on one or more persons in respect of a building, it was sufficient compliance for any of those persons, being an owner, to submit a certificate. The certificate was to be signed by the competent person. A certificate was required by a competent person as to whether the building is covered by the Act or not. A declaration may be given that the person served is not the owner.
The certificate was required to certify one of the following
- the building is, subject to the procedures and tolerances of normal building practice, constructed in accordance with specified codes of practice and standards
- the occupiers of, and persons who have recourse to, or are in the vicinity of, such building will not be exposed to risks related to the robustness of the building which would be unduly in excess of those normally present in a building constructed, subject to the procedures and tolerances of normal building practice, in accordance with the specified codes of practice or
- all reasonable actions as set out in the certificate (which, included where appropriate, the actions specified below) have been taken to minimise as far as is practicable the risk of accidental damage to the building.
The Required Action
The required actions were
- the protection of important parts of a building against vehicular impact by the provision of bollards, crash barriers or other appropriate means;
- the checking, testing and, if necessary, remedying of the condition of gas installations;
- the carrying out of leak surveys in and around, and within the vicinity of, the building and the repairing of gas leaks, if any;
- the checking and, if necessary, remedying of the ventilation systems for lift shafts and service ducts in the building;
- the checking and, if necessary, remedying of the ventilation system for rooms containing gas appliances in the building
- the sealing of service entries through building walls below ground level
- the ventilation or filling of voids under the building
- the ensuring that any gas service in a void in the building is located in a ventilated sleeve or, if necessary, the removal of gas service from the void
- the cessation of, and the restriction on, the use or storage in the building in containers exceeding 500 millilitres in capacity of petroleum spirit, within the meaning the Dangerous Substances Act;
- the cessation of, and the restriction on, the use or storage in the building of gas in containers exceeding 500 millilitres in capacity
- the cutting-off of gas supplies to the building.
Where a certificate submitted to a local authority under the Act certified that the action set out in the certificate had been taken in relation to a specified building, no action was to be taken in relation to that building which would have the effect of undoing the action so set out.
Action could be taken if an owner of the specified building submits to the local authority in whose functional area the building is situated a further certificate, signed by a competent person, certifying that all reasonable actions as set out in that certificate have been taken to minimise, as far as practicable, the risk of accidental damage by reason of the undoing of the first mentioned action.
The certificates had to be given by a competent person. A competent person must be
- a chartered engineer;
- persons with experience in structural design and appraisal of multi-storey buildings
- in the case of installation of gas in a multi-storey building, a chartered engineer with experience of the design and installation of gas services in buildings.
Owners of buildings and their agents were entitled to enter the building, for the purpose of providing the certificate. They may inspect the buildings, carry out works to enhance robustness, carry out reasonable actions to minimise the risks of accidental damage to the building. They must make good any disturbance caused by such works.
Every local authority which is the owner of a multi-storey building situate in its functional area was obliged to have prepared and signed by a competent person a certificate certifying whether the building is, or is not a specified building.
- who, without lawful excuse, fails to submit to a local authority within the time prescribed a certificate required to be furnished;
- who knowingly gives a certificate which is false or misleading in any respect, or knowingly submits such a certificate;
- who knowingly makes a statutory declaration for the purpose of the Act;
- who, having been required by a local authority by a notice in writing to give them any information, fails to give that information within the specified period or knowingly makes any misstatement in respect thereof;
- who refuses to allow an owner who has given him due notice, or the agent of that owner, to enter the building or the part of the building to which the notice relates or to take any person or equipment with him in the exercise of his powers under that section, or who obstructs or impedes the owner or his agent in the exercise of such powers;
- who refuses or fails, without lawful excuse, to comply with a request made to him by any person on whom a notice under the Act has been served, to cooperate with that person, in obtaining a certificate in accordance with the Act;
was guilty of an offence under the legilsation.