Manadatory Electrical Safety Checks in Private Rented Homes Confirmed

Plans for mandatory five-year electrical safety checks in privately rented homes in England have been confirmed by the government and it's good news all around.

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Leicester electrical safety checks

This week, the Government announced that electrical safety checks will become mandatory in the private rented sector but no date has yet been given about the mandatory five-yearly checks. The consultation results were released by the government confirmed Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICR) will become mandatory and will have similar consequences as not carrying out (and passing) the yearly Gas Safe inspection. The government response says “they will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows”, so we expect no later than May 2020.

This move is welcomed by Leicester Property Insight and Harry Albert Lettings & Estates, we realise the growing need to safe properties in the private rented sector but there is still a lack of clarity surrounding the subject causing a significant impact on landlords’ and agents’ abilities to plan and prepare for the change. Whilst this move is supported by us, we feel it couldn’t come at a worse time as landlords face yet another cost to add to the hundreds/thousands of pounds extra per year it will cost to be a landlord.

Briefly, a petition has been launched to persuade the Government to allow tenants to be charged for insurance protecting the property from damage should the tenants have pets, by outlawing this charge, tenants with pets will find the private rented sector far less accessible. Recent polls by Harry Albert Lettings & Estates which were launched two days ago (on the 1st February 2019) already shows 4.6x fewer landlords will be willing to accept pets when the tenant fee ban comes into force, this will result in increased homelessness and pet abandonment; you can sign the petition by clicking here to prevent tenants with pets left at an even bigger disadvantage than they already face. Harry Albert Lettings & Estates have also launched another petition calling for an end to insurers who insure against tenant damage but indiscriminately exclude damage caused by the tenant’s pets.

The Government decided that a legal requirement for landlords to make sure their electrical safety inspections are carried out by competent, qualified electricians and new guidane will be developed that sets out the minimum requirements to accept as proof that inspectors have the skills and levels of competence required to do their job. We expect a similar register to Gas Safe being formed. for this purpose.

The government has indicated this might not be the case, the NLA say;

“If an inspector and tester is not a member of a competent person scheme, the landlord can ask them to sign a checklist certifying their competence.”

Failure to comply with the new rules when they come in, or if you’re a landlord found to be in breach of the new laws, will result in fines of up to £30’000 and banning orders for repeated offences.

Speaking on the announcement, Housing Minister Heather Wheeler (who we have sent a seven-page letter to about the issues surrounding the private rented sector and the unforeseen consequences of some parts of the Tenant Fees Bill, for which we have so far been ignored) 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 minority 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 safe in their homes. It will also provide clear guidance to landlords on who they should be hiring to carry out these important electrical safety checks”.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, these checks will give confidence to tenants in the safety of their homes which is much needed in the modern day renting environment. Too frequently do we see homes that are below standard, from rotten flooring to broken window panes, to plugs that don’t switch off and ceilings so water-logged from a leak upstairs they’re at risk of collapse…

The plans come at the end of years of campaigning by consumer and safety groups such as Electrical Safety First.

The government’s confirmation has been announced 10 years after the death of Thirza Whitall who was found dead by her five-year-old daughter Millie at their home in Porthscatho, Cornwall.

The 33-year-old had been running a bath and the inquest into her death was told the property had no earth connection. An electric current made its way through the taps and into the water

What should you do now?

There’s no obligation to really do anything right now, but if you’d rather get ahead of the game and demonstrate to your tenants that you’re a brilliant landlord, you can book in for a Housing Health and Safety Rating System Review with Harry Albert Lettings & Estates by calling 0116 321 4970 and, if any issues are highlighted, we will offer to put things right for you.

Alternatively, you can visually inspect your electrical installations yourself; you’re mostly looking for:

  • Worn out fuse box/consumer unit
  • Trip switches regularly tripping
  • Specific switch or plug causes the trip switches to trip (could indicate isolated electrical issue)
  • Frayed insulation or exposed wiring
  • Wire insulation browned or melted from overheating
  • Buzzing sound coming from outlets when turned on
  • Charred or discoloured outlets and switches
  • Part melted plugs (could indicate an electrical fault with appliance or property)
  • The smell of burning anywhere in the property when electrics are being used
  • Sparking when turning outlets on or off or plugging or unplugging appliances
  • Flickering or dimming lights (could indicate bulb needs replacing in most cases)
  • Plugs won’t turn off
  • Plugs won’t turn on

If any of these issues are apparent and not clearly identified to be not caused by an electrical fault, call a qualified electrician and advise your tenant to not put themselves at risk of electrocution by using unsafe electrics. In some cases, you will need to book in an emergency repair.

Harry Albert Lettings & Estates have a large framework of qualified trade professionals we can call on at a moment’s notice. Properties we manage always benefit from speedy, affordable repairs keeping your assets protected and your tenants happy. Give us a call on 0116 321 4970 to find out why we’re tenants’ and landlords’ favourite Leicester letting agent!

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