Electrical Safety Checks:
Views and comments are now being sought on the recommendations made by the Private Rented Sector Electrical Safety Working Group following its initial consultation.
The working group has recommended introducing 5 yearly mandatory electrical installation checks for private rented property and that other safety checks (landlords / agents checking appliances between tenancies) be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidelines.
This ongoing consultation is inviting views and comments from interested parties to gather additional evidence on the recommendations made by the working group. The newly titled Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) says that any legislation brought forward as a result of this consultation will be subject to the appropriate Parliamentary approval.
The final outcome of the consultation will be linked to the conclusion of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety following the Grenfell fire incident, due in the spring this year.
The plan is that five-yearly electrical installation and safety checks for all private rented properties will become mandatory, and, similar to the gas checks, safety certificates will be issued to tenants to show that the checks and any necessary repair work have been completed.
The new Housing Minister Heather Wheeler has launched a follow on consultation on the proposals which will also seek to decide how best to enforce the strengthened safety regime, on the setting up of a private rented sector electrical testing competent person’s scheme to ensure properly trained experts undertake this testing, and it seems likely that penalties will be along the lines of other landlord failings of up to £30,000.
It is argued that the checks will make properties safer for tenants and will also safeguard landlords’ investments by helping prevent fires.
Available statistics show that tenants in private rented sector housing face a greater risk that home owners of being involved in an electrical incident, electrical shock or house fires due to electrical faults in the wiring and in appliances.
Powers provided for in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 will allow the department to introduce regulations which will provide for these additional measures.
These come on top of a slew of recent initiatives and potential new rules aimed at tackling rogue landlords and improving the quality of private rented properties:
- Automatic fines by local authorities of up to £30,000 and banning orders for rogue landlords for seriously breaching various regulations
- Rent recovery fines
- A Bill giving tenants the right to take legal action against landlords for unsafe properties.
- The government has said it has committed to changing the law to require all landlords to join a redress scheme making sure that every tenant has access to effective dispute resolution.
Heather Wheeler has said:
“Everyone deserves a safe place to live. While measures are already in place to crack down on the minority of landlords who rent out unsafe properties we need to do more to protect tenants,’ said Wheeler.
“That’s why we introduced powers to enable stronger electrical safety standards to be brought in along with tough penalties for those who don’t comply. We want to ensure we strike the right balance between protecting tenants while being fair for landlords. So I want to hear from as many people as possible whether these independent recommendations are the right approach.”
Electrical safety in the private rented sector – more information here