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.
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.
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.