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Improved electrical safety checks in private rented sector to stamp out rogue landlords

Landlords that fail to ensure mandatory electrical safety inspections in private rented accommodation are carried out by qualified testers face tougher penalties under new plans announced by the UK government.  

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The move requires landlords to use only inspectors that are “competent and qualified” to give tenants greater assurance that their homes are not at risk from faulty electrics.

The measures are part of the government’s attempts to improve standards in the private rented sector and are similar to those that came into force in Scotland in 2015.

Councils have also been given new powers to impose fines of up to £30,000 on rogue landlords who rent out poor quality properties. 

New guidance that specifies the minimum level of qualifications and competence required for inspectors is due to be published. It will provide “clear accountability at each stage of the [inspection] process”.

Additionally, operators of existing electrical competent person registers will be invited to set up an electrical inspection scheme which inspectors can choose to join.

In its response to a consultation on electrical safety in the private rented sector, which ran from 17 February to 16 April 2018, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “The conclusions of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety by Dame Judith Hackitt noted the importance of ensuring a coherent and comprehensive approach to competence with robust systems of accreditation and enforcement to ensure adequate accountability.

“We will, therefore, produce new guidance for landlords that demonstrates which qualifications provide that level of competence. Landlords should have regard to that guidance in determining who is competent to carry out an electrical safety inspection.

“This approach will provide clear accountability at each stage of the process, of what is required and whose responsibility it is – without excessive cost and time burdens to the industry. It will be broadly in line with existing regulations in Scotland, ensuring consistency for landlords operating across the two countries.

“Alongside the new guidance, existing competent person scheme operators will be invited to set up an electrical inspection and testing scheme which inspectors and testers could choose to join.”

In July the government revealed it would mandate private landlords to arrange electrical installation safety checks every five years, with legislation to be introduced “as soon as Parliamentary time allows”.

Under the new regulation, which will apply from 1 June, there will be a two-year transition period. In the first year the duty will affect new private tenancies only before it is extended to all existing private tenancies in the second year.

Properties with an existing electrical installation condition report (EICR) will not be required to replace it for five years from its date. For new and fully re-wired properties, an electrical installation certificate can be presented in place of an EICR provided that the date of next inspection indicated on the certificate has not elapsed.

The minister for housing and homelessness, Heather Wheeler MP, said: “Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure in their own home. While measures are already in place to crack down on the small monitory of landlords who rent out unsafe properties, we need to do more to protect tenants.

“These new measures will reduce the risk of faulty electrical equipment, giving people peace of mind and helping to keep them safer in their homes.

“It will also provide clear guidance to landlords on who they should be hiring to carry out these importance electrical safety checks.”

 

 

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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