James Brokenshire MP, the Secretary of State for Communities, has announced recently that there will be a new “mandatory requirement on landlords in the private rented sector to ensure electrical installations in their property are inspected every 5 years”.
This amendment to the Housing and Planning Act (2016) is the result of years of campaigning from Electrical Safety First to make five year electrical checks mandatory in all private rented accommodation. The new ‘enabling’ legislation does not go quite that far, but it is still a good first step in achieving greater levels of safety for renters.
Whilst this will create more work for letting agents and landlords, this is not a bad thing in the right circumstances. Tenant safety is of paramount importance and measures such as these five-yearly electrical checks, alongside the usual range of gas safety and fire and carbon monoxide alarm checks, will only improve this.
The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT) is one of many bodies that has welcomed the news, stating that “Introducing these checks has the potential to dramatically improve safety in the Private Rented Sector, and ultimately save lives. The NAPIT Trade Association has long been calling for inspections to be required at least every five years, and we set out this position in our response to the Government’s consultation into electrical safety in the Private Rented Sector earlier this year.”
Brokenshire also launched a concurrent investigation into fire safety guidance in rented properties following recommendations from the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. This is another welcome move given that more than 400 people are injured or killed in fires started by faulty electrics every year.
According to LandlordZone, almost half of NAPIT members reported that there are more serious electrical faults in rental homes than any other form of tenure, making it understandable that more than 90% of said members support the new plan for checks every five years.
For these reason, it is most certainly a good thing that the government are taking the linked issues of electrical and fire safety seriously, and it is to be hoped that the final measures are strong enough to make a real difference.