Simon, little surprise that a well-meaning process emerges from legislative drafting as overly complex and challenging to interpret. One can almost hear the instructions, consultations and drafting discussions that led to this outcome. And, as you rightly point out, the original purpose is rarely achieved and sometimes frustrated. Boiler plate documents that sit inert in some digital file are frequently the legacy.

There will also be, as you say, costs that have to be met by someone and I am sure that a cottage industry of compliance consulting on this topic is already in full swing.

My experience is that by the time the final draft emerges most of the stakeholders have moved on to the next crisis/failure and have little energy to regroup and ask whether what's on the page will produce the outcomes that were originally desired.

All very sad when there is normally a matter of some importance that needs to fixed.

Expand full comment

At first sight, the objective of these regulations is to minimise the likelihood and/or impact of another Grenfell disaster.

I suggest that this reading misses the point. The real objective of the regulations is to ensure that if – heaven forbid! – there is another similar incident, the finger of blame can be pointed at anyone other than government. Investigators after the event will be able to pick through the activities of the managing agent with a view to placing the blame on the managing agent, rather than the authorities.

By making the regulations sufficiently complex, they can be confident that they would be able to put their finger upon some failure, and ensure that the blame lies elsewhere.

I would not like to be an insurer of managing agents' professional indemnity cover!

Expand full comment

Many thanks for your comment, Peter.

It's the cock-up vs conspiracy debate that rears its head every so often. In this case, I favour the cock-up theory (ie a cock-up over the drafting). I will offer you two reasons.

First, many (or most?) of the biggest apartment blocks are owned by Councils, not private landlords. So, if DLUHC was creating regulations that were designed to be failed, the financial costs will end up with local government which will need to be bailed out by central government.

Second, in an Act that contains 170 sections, there are much better places to pursue the goal of blaming others (if that really were the intention) than in the sections that deal with engagement between the landlord and the residents. As I say in my pre-penultimate paragraph above ("Money spent ... meaningful conversation"), none of the requirements I discuss will have a direct impact on safety.

Expand full comment

One of the many cases where legislation and regulation “over egg the pudding” to the ultimate detriment of everyone. Try putting on community events in a West Sussex village! We have to do risk assessments, have a safeguarding policy, have a separate licence to serve alcohol, first aiders on duty (I am now fully trained you will be gratified to know!) I now know Lord Lytton (John) who speaks with knowledge on such things in the second chamber if you want to pass on some key points.

Expand full comment