As the result of a government consultation last year, there was an announcement in July 2018 that regulations will be introduced that will require all private sector landlords to carry out annual safety checks on electrical installations situated in their residential properties. Now, the Government has also added that any electrical inspector that landlords enlist to conduct the safety inspections must legally carry the necessary capabilities and qualifications.
The consultation ran from February to April 2018, with 582 responses across the industry, including those from local authorities, housing charities and landlord associations. The government further stated that this new legislation will be implemented in phases, starting firstly with new tenancies. New guidance will also be issued, mostly in line with the existing regulation already in place in Scotland, which will ensure simplicity and consistency for landlords running businesses across both countries.
The decision on fines or penalties for non-compliance will be announced before the introduction of the secondary legislation. However, the penalties will likely involve a variety of sanctions, and local authorities will be given discretion to choose which punishment is most fitting for each particular case. The government will work closely with the local authorities within England when selecting the penalties, and has claimed that there will be tough financial punishments for landlords who do not comply with the legislation.
An announcement of the measures on 29th January 2019 clarified the coverage of the private rented sector, with a forthcoming response expected to the ongoing social housing consultation, which will cover a larger variety of issues, such as the quality and safety of social housing. Heather Wheeler MP has stated that all residents have the right to feel secure and safe in their homes, and while there are measures in place already which crack down on a small minority of rogue landlords who let unsafe property, more must be done in order to protect tenants. The prospective new measures aim to reduce the danger of faulty electrical equipment, and provide peace of mind to tenants to keep them safe within their own homes.
The measures will also provide transparent guidance to landlords concerning who they should hire to conduct these serious electrical safety checks. The new guidance will also provide landlords with clear accountability at all stages of the process of inspection, and guidance on what is required, as well as who is responsible. The government also promises to not place excessive time and cost burdens on landlords. In addition to improving electrical safety and making homes safer for tenants, the measures also promise to benefit landlords by preventing fires and obliging them to carry out material improvements to their properties, reducing the risk of fires which can cause significant and costly damage.
The measures also aim to build on the government’s ongoing action to improve standards within the private rented sector, while supporting tenants and ensuring that millions of people can live safely in the accommodation they deserve. New powers for local councils have also been introduced by ministers to better enable them to tackle the small number of bad landlords who let poor quality property. This includes fines of a maximum £30,000, in addition to banning orders for any landlord who does not comply with the new regulations.
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