The Working Group report on Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) has been published.
The Group made up of representatives from landlord, tenant and fire safety bodies and local and national government agreed that some form of regulation is required for mandatory electrical safety checks in the PRS. It is hoped that checks will ensure that electrical installations are satisfactory and where they are not, compel landlords to carry out necessary works. The Group also recommended that an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) should be commissioned by landlords with a copy given to any new tenant. To align with standards in Scotland, the majority of the Group also agreed that 5 yearly mandatory electrical safety checks should be set out in any secondary legislation. Where there is a change in tenant within the 5 years a visual check of electrical installations should be encouraged as ‘best practice.’
Portable appliance testing for small electrical items supplied by a landlord are not a legal requirement at present and are unlikely to be so after any secondary legislation is passed. The Group agreed that landlords should be encouraged to have any items tested and visually checked when there is a change in tenant. The Group also agreed that landlords should be encouraged to install Residual Current Devices (RCDs). RCDs will switch off electricity automatically in the event of an earth fault.
The Group also agreed that these electrical checks should be carried out by competent trained persons similar to Gas Safe engineers.
Finally, similar to the scheme adopted in Scotland, the requirements to inspect and test electrical installations in England in the PRS will be phased in. The requirements are likely to begin with new tenancies first followed by existing tenancies. Where the Group have not recommended legislation but ‘best practice’ and encouragement, material on best practice guidance is proposed with a publication date prior to the secondary legislation coming into force.
Many will be wondering whether this secondary legislation is really necessary in light of, for example, a landlord’s obligation to keep installations, including electrical, in good repair and proper working order (L&T Act 1985) however, the sector appears to require it and its likely to come into force. The process of completing the checks and handing tenants any relevant paperwork will no doubt be similar to that for Gas Safe certificates. So, while it is one more thing to remember and pay for it will hopefully not be too burdensome. The report has not been formally accepted by the government and they could decline to go with some or all of it’s recommendations but it is expected that most, if not all, of the report will find its way into the final legislation.