New tougher electrical safety standards to protect private tenants

Filed in Breaking News, Landlords by on 20th February, 2019 0 Comments

News: 27th January 2020

The following draft Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) 2019 Statutory Instrument has been laid before Parliament under section 214(2) of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and section 250(4) and (6) of the Housing Act 2004, for approval by resolution of each House of Parliament.

A product of the 17th Feb 2018 consultation and drafted by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, we note that it does not reflect the original intent given by the consultation paper. As such certain aspects of this draft Statutory Instrument are out of context and clearly wrong.

The draft Statutory Instrument clause 3(1)a “ensure that the electrical safety standards are met during any period when the residential premises are occupied under a specified tenancy;” can be interpreted to mandate the need for all PRS properties to have electrical installations upgraded to 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations.  The term “electrical safety standard” defined in clause 2 as “means the standards for electrical installations in the eighteenth edition of the Wiring Regulations, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the British Standards Institution as BS 7671: 2018;

Reassuringly we have been advised by Electrical Safety First as follows:

The legislation was drawn up by lawyers and is therefore not the easiest to interpret.  The requirement actually simply refers to BS 7671 as the base reference – meaning that new installations/remedial work must comply with BS 7671. Existing installations need to meet the requirements for periodic inspection and testing to ensure they are safe for continued use. I have had this clarified by the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government too.”

However, their is no indication that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government are intending to amend it. It is essential that landlords are not compromised be regulations that are incorrect. Any Court case will follow the regulation to the letter and not be influenced by opinion or how the regulation should have read.

It will be the Local Authorities that will regulate this statutory requirement, as such ALL Wessex will arrange to discuss our concerns with them.  ALL Wessex will also send a formal letter to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government demanding an amendment.

News: 18 Feb 2018

According to the most recent data tenants in the private rented sector face a higher risk of electrical shock and fires caused by electrical faults in their homes compared to social housing tenants.

To address this the government introduced new powers in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 to set and enforce tougher electrical safety standards in the private rented sector and established a working group of independent experts from industry and a range of other sectors to develop recommendations.

Recommended new safety measures to better protect private tenants by reducing the risk of electric shocks or fires caused by electrical faults were published for consultation on 17 February 2018 by the then Housing Minister Heather Wheeler. We are not sure when the new legislation will commence, however, the latest info can accessed by clicking here.

Five yearly mandatory electrical installation safety checks for all private rented properties and safety certificates for tenants, to prove checks and repair work have been completed, are part of a package of independent recommendations to improve safety.

Independent recommendations include:

  • 5 yearly mandatory electrical installation safety checks for all private rented properties.
  • Mandatory safety certificates confirming installation checks have been completed along with any necessary repair work provided to both landlord and tenants at the beginning of the tenancy and made available to the local authority on request.
  • A private rented sector electrical testing competent person’s scheme should be established to ensure properly trained experts undertake this work. This would be separate from existing building regulations competent person.
  • Landlord supplied electrical appliance testing and visual checks of electrical appliances by landlords at a change of tenancy should be promoted as good practice and set out in guidance.

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About the Author ()

Rob Crawford is the chairman of the Association of Local Landlords (Wessex). Rob is a practicing landlord with a property portfolio that includes small private residential properties and HMO's. Rob is a qualified letting agent and former owner of Kingfisher Lettings & Management. He is now a share holder of the successful online lettings company Lettingsupermarket.com.

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