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New tougher electrical safety standards to protect private tenants

Published 17 February 2018 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-tougher-electrical-safety-standards-to-protect-private-tenants

Recommended new safety measures to better protect private tenants by reducing the risk of electric shocks or fires caused by electrical faults were published for consultation on 17 February 2018 by Housing Minister Heather Wheeler.

Five yearly mandatory electrical installation safety checks for all private rented properties and safety certificates for tenants, to prove checks and repair work have been completed, are part of a package of independent recommendations to improve safety.

The government is also consulting on how best to enforce the strengthened safety regime along with whether landlords who do not comply should face tough penalties of up to £30,000.

As well as making homes safer for tenants, electrical installation improvements benefit the landlord as a material improvement to their properties, helping prevent fires which could cause costly and significant damage.

According to the most recent data tenants in the private rented sector face a higher risk of electrical shock and fires caused by electrical faults in their homes compared to social housing tenants.

To address this the government introduced new powers in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 to set and enforce tougher electrical safety standards in the private rented sector and established a working group of independent experts from industry and a range of other sectors to develop recommendations.

This builds on other measures already introduced or planned to improve the quality of private rented properties including fines of up to £30,000 for rogue landlords and agents and banning orders for the worst offenders.

The government is also supporting a Private Member’s Bill which will require all landlords to ensure their properties are safe and give tenants the right to take legal action.

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler said:

Everyone deserves a safe place to live. While measures are already in place to crack down on the minority of landlords who rent out unsafe properties we need to do more to protect tenants.

That’s why we introduced powers to enable stronger electrical safety standards to be brought in along with tough penalties for those who don’t comply.

We want to ensure we strike the right balance between protecting tenants while being fair for landlords. So I want to hear from as many people as possible whether these independent recommendations are the right approach.

Independent recommendations published for consultation today, include:

    • 5 yearly mandatory electrical installation safety checks for all private rented properties.

    • Mandatory safety certificates confirming installation checks have been completed along with any necessary repair work provided to both landlord and tenants at the beginning of the tenancy and made available to the local authority on request.

    • A private rented sector electrical testing competent person’s scheme should be established to ensure properly trained experts undertake this work. This would be separate from existing building regulations competent person.

    • Landlord supplied electrical appliance testing and visual checks of electrical appliances by landlords at a change of tenancy should be promoted as good practice and set out in guidance.

Today’s consultation seeks views on each of the safety recommendations as well as how best to approach enforcement – including what the penalty for non-compliance should be.

Final proposals will follow the conclusion of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. Dame Judith is due to submit her final report to ministers in spring this year.

Legislative powers only cover the private rented sector. We will publish a social housing green paper in spring which will cover a wide range of issues including the safety and quality of social housing.

The government has also provided UK consumers with the highest ever levels of protection, investing an extra £12 million each year in the product safety system through the new Office for Product Safety and Standards.

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