Legislation update – Electrical safety standards on the way for England
Sections 122 and 123 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 (electrical safety standards) came into force on 25 October 2019. This means we are finally one step closer to the introduction of mandatory electrical safety checks in the private rented sector in England and will see actual regulations very soon.
An enabling power was contained in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 under Section 122 to allow the Secretary of State through regulations to impose duties on private landlords to ensure that electrical safety standards are met in a property under their ownership, while a tenancy is in place. The Section also allows the Secretary of State to specify obligations that may be required of the landlord with regards to the frequency of checks and the expertise expected of any persons who undertake such checks.
Section 123 provides for the enforcement of any responsibilities introduced under Section 122 including the use of financial penalties and rights of appeal.
Following Royal Assent of the Housing and Planning Act on 12 May 2016, a working group that included representation from ARLA Propertymark and other industry, electrical and tenant bodies was established to provide recommendations on what the requirements for electrical safety in the private rented sector should look like.
Now that the Commencement Order is in place, the Secretary of State has the power to lay actual regulations, which we expect to be laid before Parliament shortly.
Summary of Electrical Safety Working Group recommendations:
Recommendation 1: Five yearly mandatory electrical installation checks should be set out in secondary legislation.
Recommendation 2: Visual checks of the safety of the electrical installation by landlords at a change of tenancy should be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidance.
Recommendation 3: A report should be issued to the landlord which confirms that an EICR has been completed along with confirmation that any remedial work necessary has been undertaken satisfactorily. A copy should be issued to the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy and should be made available to local authorities on request.
Recommendation 4: Landlord supplied electrical appliance testing and visual checks of electrical appliances by landlords at a change of tenancy should be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidance.
Recommendation 5: The installation of Residual Current Devices (RCDs) by landlords should be encouraged as good practice and set out in guidance.
Recommendation 6: A Private Rented Sector electrical testing competent person’s scheme should be set up which would be separate from existing Building Regulations competent person’s scheme.
Recommendation 7: DCLG should commission the Electrotechnical Assessment Specification (EAS) management committee to consider the most effective method of recognising ‘competent PRS testers’ to carry out electrical inspections and tests.
Recommendation 8: Legislative requirements should be phased in, beginning with new tenancies, followed by all existing tenancies.
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