MPs grill Luke Hall for taking four years to finally introduce the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, and ask why guidance on who can do testing has yet to be issued.

The government’s minimum electrical standards legislation for privately rented homes were given a final detailed scrutiny by MPs this morning who criticised ministers both for delaying their introduction and for failing to publish guidance to landlords over who would be doing the testing.

The draft Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 are due to go live on July 1st for new tenancies and from April 1st next year for existing ones, nearly four years after they were first proposed.

“It seems quite astonishing that this has taken so long given the regulations have cross party support, and the evidence showing the huge gulf between electrical and gas fires in properties,” said Labour MP for Croydon Sarah Jones.

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She said 1,169 fires had been caused by faulty electrics since 2010 in London compared to 131 by gas equipment, and that renters are ten times more likely to experience an electrical fire than a gas-related one.

The new standards will require privately rented accommodation to meet minimum electrical safety standards, and for properties to be inspected and tested by a ‘competent person’ every five years.

Guidance

But with only a few weeks to go, landlords have yet to be told who they can use to inspect their properties, test their electrics and issue them with a certificate.

Luke Hall, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, promised the guidance would be issued ‘soon’ but could not give a date.

Several other holes were picked in the regulations including why PAT Testing of smaller appliances is not included, why England has not chosen to copy Scotland’s successful use of the First Tier court system to enforce standards (rather than England’s stretched Environmental Officers) and why errant landlords are not to face rent payment orders if they fail to meet standards rather than just facing fines.

Read the draft regulations in full.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. As a Letting Agent I fully support the proposals and agree that mandatory electrical checks are long overdue.

    However I do feel given the events over the last few weeks and ongoing situation with Coronavirus the timeframe suggested needs serious consideration.

    My personal opinion as a manager of a letting agency with 350 managed properties was that the proposed deadline for existing tenancies was extremely tight.

    In light of the fact that rent arrears are going to be a major issue in the coming months causing issues for both tenants and landlords through no fault of their own, as well as the increased work load for agents in trying to resolve the issues the deadline is now completely unworkable.

    Hopefully the government will revise the dates as well as assisting both tenants and landlords where needed (not all landlords are rolling in it as they are perceived to be and also may be struggling).

  2. What this legislation doesn’t clarify is the requirement to meet electrical safety standards as they are today (18th edition) or safety standards when the properties were originally wired (or rewired) . Standards and amendments are common in the electrical industry . It would be completely unreasonable to expect landlords to have to rewire houses with perfectly sound systems all be it too an earlier standard . This could result in surface mounted electrical systems being installed which are not ideal in domestic situations to alleviate the substantial redecoration costs involved . A house rewire can cost around £3500 pounds , redecoration of the house making good all walls could double that cost . Ultimatly these costs will reflect in rental costs rising if every few years your expected to upgrade

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