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wadge
20-04-2008, 22:15 PM
My local council have asked for a Periodic Inspection for a house let to a family (ie. non-HMO) for no reason other than:

"...in accordance with the requirements of the Housing Act and to ensure the health and safety of tennants with regard to fire and electrical hazards a certificate to confirm the installation complies with current British Standard 7671 is required."

Now I can't find anywhere in the Housing Act that mentions BS 7671 and I know that having any type of electrical safety certificate for a non HMO is not necessary.

They say that if it is not provided within a timeframe, they will serve an improvement notice. I thought that improvement notices are served where they can see hazards.

I don't have any problems getting the PIR but I don't want to be bullied into it by them. What should I do?

susanne
20-04-2008, 22:23 PM
maybe they have you registered as a HMO - can you find out on their website - or just ring and ask them.

wadge
20-04-2008, 22:34 PM
They sent me 'request for info' which I filled in and returned to them. The council didn't believe me or were in doubt as to wether the people were related so they wanted proof that the family was a family. I replied back saying that I am happy to believe they are a family (which they 100% are) and if the council wants to check, they can do their own investigations. I would be out of my right as a LL to ask for passports etc.

So as it stands, I think they may have the house on file as an HMO.

bagpuss
21-04-2008, 19:37 PM
You need to talk to the council and see if they think your property is an HMO and that's why they are pursuing this matter.

I've found it most helpful to talk to our council (RCT) as they are more than happy to provide advice and help, though I don't know if all councils are so helpful.

wadge
21-04-2008, 21:26 PM
Assuming the status of it is HMO, once it's changed over can I tell the council to stop bothering me because they haven't given me a valid reason as to why they want to see a PIR?

susanne
21-04-2008, 23:16 PM
i often ask for a passport as a means of identification, but, this will not tell you if they are related - i suspect the council have you down as a HMO. i would suggest that its up to the council to prove they are not related, rather than for you to prove they are.

Esio Trot
22-04-2008, 09:21 AM
"...in accordance with the requirements of the Housing Act and to ensure the health and safety of tenants with regard to fire and electrical hazards a certificate to confirm the installation complies with current British Standard 7671 is required."

Local Councils are renowned for gold plating legislation - and getting their "customers" to jump through myriad hoops, often quite unnecessarily.

On more than a few occasions in my dealings with the council, I have found them asking for significantly more than the law allows in a particular situation. To comply without question in some of the cases would have cost me hundreds of pounds - and for no perceivable benefit.

My reading of the above quote is that it is insufficient for you to act on, particularly as the "Housing Act" - whether the 2006, 1996 or 1988 version (which they didn't state) - is a huge document, with many related statutory instruments. They need to be specific.

I would write a polite letter to the originator saying that you are happy to comply, but are having difficulty finding the appropriate requirement listed in the statute quoted. Ask them to quote you the actual section under which this request is made.

Only when you have the relevant statute in front of you can you see if it is appropriate for your circumstances, necessary to comply, and the sanctions for not doing so.

wadge
22-04-2008, 20:43 PM
This is my question to them:

In response to your letter of 10th March 2008 to which you try to answer
my question about why you require an electrical safety certificate, you
mention it is a requirement of the Housing Act 2004. Could you clarify
under which section of the said Housing Act this requirement it.

Their reply:

Further to your email below where you have requested a further clarification as to why you are required to provide a copy of a current electrical certificate for 9 xxx Road.

As explained in my letter dated 10th March, the Council inspects rented properties in accordance with the requirements of the Housing Act 2004. During property inspections under part 1 of the Act, a Housing Health and Safety Rating System assessment is undertaken to ensure that no category one or two hazards exist, within the 29 potential hazard profiles. Once this assessment has been carried out the Council has a duty/power to take the appropriate enforcement action if a category one or two hazard exists on the premise.

To confirm that no such hazards are present at the property with regard to fire and electrical hazards, a certificate to confirm that the electrical installation complies with the current British Standard 7671 is required. Should a current electrical certificate not be provided to confirm that the electrical installation meets with current regulations, the Council will have no other option than to serve an improvement notice under Section 11 and/or 12 of the Housing Act 2004.

Surely if they want to check for a hazard, they should provide the tests?

Esio Trot
22-04-2008, 22:29 PM
It would appear that you have a really zealous official here.

The relevant legislation is the Housing Act 2004 c34 (http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts2004/ukpga_20040034_en_2#pt1-ch1-pb1-l1g2) which covers the Hazards to Health Safety Rating System

My reading of it is that an improvement notice follows the discovery of a cat 1 or 2 hazard. It is not a means to enforce the production of an electrical certificate to see if such a hazard exists.

Have a good read. Being a pedantic sod, I would get back to the official and argue that his/her request does not comply with c34. If you take this course though, I'm sure you will have a battle to fight.

The explanatory notes have the following:

Section 4: Inspections by local housing authorities to see whether category 1 or 2 hazards exist
62. This provision replaces, with modifications, section 606 of the 1985 Act. Under subsection (1) if the LHA considers that it would be appropriate to inspect residential premises to establish whether or not there is a category 1 or category 2 hazard, the authority must arrange for an inspection to be carried out.

I see nothing about the owner arranging an inspection, also the Act itself reads:

4 Inspections by local housing authorities to see whether category 1 or 2 hazards exist

(1) If a local housing authority consider—
(a) as a result of any matters of which they have become aware in carrying out their duty under section 3, or
(b) for any other reason,
that it would be appropriate for any residential premises in their district to be inspected with a view to determining whether any category 1 or 2 hazard exists on those premises, the authority must arrange for such an inspection to be carried out.


Bear in mind that this is the property inspection, not the electrical inspection. Once the inspection has taken place the next section comes into play:

5 Category 1 hazards: general duty to take enforcement action

(1) If a local housing authority consider that a category 1 hazard exists on any residential premises, they must take the appropriate enforcement action in relation to the hazard.


The enforcement actions to be considered are:

2) In subsection (1) “the appropriate enforcement action” means whichever of the following courses of action is indicated by subsection (3) or (4)—
(a) serving an improvement notice under section 11;
(b) making a prohibition order under section 20;
(c) serving a hazard awareness notice under section 28;
(d) taking emergency remedial action under section 40;
(e) making an emergency prohibition order under section 43;
(f) making a demolition order under subsection (1) or (2) of section 265 of the Housing Act 1985 (c. 68);
(g) declaring the area in which the premises concerned are situated to be a clearance area by virtue of section 289(2) of that Act.

As I wrote earlier, it seems they are acting outside the housing act here.

wadge
23-04-2008, 07:58 AM
Thanks for your reply. I'm going to speak to someone higher up in the council today for their view on it. Communities and LG were not much help even though it is THEM who write the damn thing!