New proposal would give buildilng control powers to prosecute two years after breach of regulations

The government is proposing to toughen up the enforcement of building regulations by giving councils longer to prosecute offenders.

Southwark Building Control
Southwark Building Control on the beat

The communities department has launched a consultation proposing to lengthen the time local authorities have to prosecute breaches of the Building Regulations from six months to two years.

The government could extend the time limit immediately for building regulations governing energy use in buildings, but new legislation would be required to change the time period for other regulations.

The communities department said enforcement of the regulations was a problem partly because sanctions were too weak. It said defects could take longer than six months to become apparent.

Iain Wright, minister at Communities and Local Government said: "Local authority building control representatives have stressed the barrier to effective enforcement that the current six months allowed for prosecution can pose - it is not long enough."

"It is not right that those committing serious breaches and avoiding justified enforcement action are putting themselves and others at health and safety risk."

"They can also be reducing the energy efficiency potential of buildings - everyone should be striving to make buildings as environmentally friendly as possible. A more efficient enforcement regime should prove to be a more effective deterrent to non-compliance, ensuring that unscrupulous and lazy builders cannot benefit at the expense of the law-abiding majority".

The consultation is open until 23rd October 2007.