There are set to be new regulations relating to the electrical safety checks that have to be carried out in England’s private rented sector (PRS) from later this year.
The National Landlords Association (NLA) reported that the new regulations are set to come into force for new tenancies from July 2020, and for existing tenancies from 1 April 2021. But what do landlords need to know about the new rules?
Firstly, it will become mandatory for all electrical installations to be inspected at least once every five years. This inspection needs to be carried out by a ‘qualified person’. It’s also worth noting that five years is the longest you can go between inspections, and in some properties the most recent safety report may require checks to be made more frequently than this.
Secondly, landlords will be responsible for making sure that the person carrying out the inspection is a ‘qualified person’. This means checking that any electrician who is employed for this task has the right qualifications.
Once the electrical safety report has been completed, landlords will be duty bound to share the findings with tenants.
New tenants should be given a copy of the most recent electrical safety report before they move in, and existing tenants should receive a copy within 28 days of the inspection being carried out.
Crucially, if this report identifies any problems, landlords will need to address them within 28 days. In some cases, the timeframe could be shorter if it’s deemed to be an urgent issue.
Once again, landlords need to receive written confirmation that the work has been carried out and they need to share this with their tenants.
It’s also important to note that landlords who don’t comply with the new regulations could be liable for a fine of up to £30,000.
While the NLA has stated that it supports the new rules for electrical safety inspections in the PRS, Meera Chindooroy, policy and public affairs manager at the organisation, said that it has some concerns about the time scale for the introduction of the new regulations.
“Given the rules are due to come into force from July this year for new tenancies, it’s essential that the government provides and widely promotes clear guidance for landlords and letting agents as soon as possible, to enable them to meet their responsibilities,” she asserted.
Organisations involved in electrical safety have welcomed the new regulations, with Electrical Safety First director Martyn Allen telling Modern Building Services last month that they are “long overdue” and that it’s good to finally see that the dangers posed by electricity in the home are being treated the same as those posed by gas.
ECA technical director Mike Smith, meanwhile, told the news provider that the new regulations will “help to protect millions in rented accommodation across England”.
While both the ECA and Electrical Safety First welcomed the legislation for the PRS, both organisations have also stressed the importance of extending this to cover social housing in England as well.
The Guardian recently highlighted figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showing that a rising number of people are renting later into their lives as owning a home becomes more challenging.
The latest figures from the ONS showed that 15.8 per cent of 45 to 54 year olds rented their homes in 2017, up from the 5.6 per cent recorded in 1997. The organisation also noted that, if the trend of declining homeownership among 35 to 44 year olds continues, it’s more likely that older people will be living in the PRS as they reach retirement.
Last year, research found that one in three people in the millennial generation (those born between mid-1980s and mid-1990s) never expect to own their own home. This means there is a large group of people who will be spending longer in the PRS in England and the rest of the UK.
With rising demand for rental properties, new regulations to ensure that these homes are safe and fit for purpose are even more important.
The ONS data also showed that, although people are more likely to buy a property as they get older, either because they receive an inheritance or take out a mortgage, the number of people privately renting in every age bracket under the age of 65 is higher than it was ten or 20 years ago.
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