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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Government must protect tenants by delaying electrical safety regulations - RLA

The Residential Landlords Associations (RLA) is calling on the government to delay introducing new electrical safety rules to help ensure that tenants are protected. 

New regulations were presented before parliament last month in a move by the government to strengthen electrical safety practices and bring in line with those already well-established within gas safety regulations in private residential tenancies.

The regulation, if implemented, will only affect private residential tenancies; affecting new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and those tenancies already in existence from 1 April 2021.

The proposal will move to ensure all electrical wiring and fixed electrical installations are signed off and reported by a qualified electrician.

If the report highlights any issues, the landlord will be required to remedy the issue within 28 days, or potentially face a fine of up to £30,000.

However, the RLA warns that the changes, as currently proposed, will immediately remove the obligation for landlords to carry out electrical safety checks in Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

The obligation under the new rules will not apply until a tenancy is renewed or April 2021, whichever comes first, and this could leave some rental properties under no legally binding electrical safety regime for the interim period, leaving tenants without the assurance that properties are safe.

The RLA has written to the Ministry of Housing to express its concerns about the loophole being created for irresponsible landlords who otherwise would not carry out these checks. It wants to see the government postpone the implementation of the new framework to provide time to address the problems being caused.

David Smith, policy director for the RLA, commented: “Good landlords don’t need to be told to carry out safety checks but these changes to regulations leave tenants vulnerable to those landlords who are not so responsible. 

“It is essential for the safety of tenants that the loophole being created is closed and we urge the government to delay implementation until that happens.”

Poll: Are you concerned about the potential loophole being created for irresponsible landlords who otherwise would not carry out electrical safety checks?

PLACE YOUR VOTE BELOW

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    Tenants are only vulnerable if there is an electrical fault and If there isn't then they are not vulnerable. The majority of properties are safe so few are vulnerable. That is a problem but it is not a reason to run around headless shouting, "Test, test,test". The simplest way to do this work is to force letting agents do a PAT test when they inspect properties. It is very simple work and it will highlight cases were a real electrician is needed without needlessly spending billions of tenants rent on needless testing. My letting agent can barely spot when a tap is worn out so any improvement there would be far more use than blindly heaping costs on landlords and ultimately tenants.

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    Yes as always it will be the tenants picking up the tab here.

     
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    Fred Jones, I suggest you comment on things you know about. How do you know the majority of properties are safe? You don't, you just think they are. PAT testing reveals nothing about the safety of an electrical installation as it involves testing of the appliances attached to the installation, not the installation itself.

    As well as being a landlord, I happen to be an electrician. I carry out Electrical Installation Condition Reports almost every week. Granted, it is older installations I normally test but in all the years I have been doing this I have never had a 'satisfactory' test without doing remedial work.

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    So you always find a fault in order to increase the bill, bit like the MOT test where some garages always fail a car in order to get work?

     
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    I have to say, if you have never had a “satisfactory” test in all the years you've been doing this, you must really be visiting some very bad properties.

    Having been involved in property rental for 40 years, owned a triple award winning agency managing in excess of 350 quality properties for 15 years, I find this either suspicious or staggering.

    If what you are saying is truly the case and your working on newer properties, maybe it’s the electrical contractors that need greater legislation at the initial install stage..food for thought

     
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    I am a qualified electrician and a lot more in the realms of instrumentation and familiarity with foreign wiring regulations as well. Prince Philip once made a comment about Indian fuse boxes. I am sure he is not an electrician but I knew exactly what he meant. I have seen Indian fuse boxes.

    Your point about older installations is valid but there are good and bad of those and I have seen some absolutely horrible ones and I have seen safe good ones. The bad ones don't need testing, just condemning on sight. Certificates are not needed for that. The good ones still need testing for earthing and insulation efficiency and if I was signing off on one of those I would to be double sure I had tested everything etc. If they are point wired that may be a good reason to put in a ring main.

    In my own properties I have usually had to re-do kitchen installations after purchase.

    The point about PAT testing is very valid. Most problems I see are damaged sockets, arcing contacts in plugs on cables, damaged bathroom mirror lights. None of that needs testing. It needs flagging up to get fixed. When fixed it can be tested. I still say a PAT test will show up those things if the tester were trained to look at what they are seeing. You do have to unplug a device to test it. You wouldn't want to touch a dangerous socket would you?

     
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    No, I am honest, I report what I find. It is up to the owner of the property to arrange remedial work, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. I have plenty of work, I don't need to invent problems.

    Do you assume all tradesmen are dishonest? Or are you dishonest and assume everyone else is too?

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    I have an excellent electrician, and an excellent MOT testing garage here in Norwich who are fair and honest , there are many who are not, and no, I am not dishonest myself.

     
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    I would ask Ministry of Housing to ignore to ignore ARLA and RLA who are making a living out of Landlords that they are supposed to be supporting, its not their property. I would also ask Landlords to boycott those organisations who can't wait to put the boot-in. Regarding Houses in Multiple Occupation (HM0) do they not know that the 5 years Certification of electrical Installation in residential property is already a requirement for HMO's and I have had to have it done since 2006, so where is this big hole try looking behind you. Do you assume that the good installations we have in our properties is going to go bad over night just because other people who had't to comply in the past will now be required to do so. I also think its bad practice for a Qualified Electrician honest or not to be allowed to Certify his own property, by all means keep it in good condition but some other Registered Electrician to certify not the owner.

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    Alistair, I tested a one bedroom flat in Highbury about 5 years ago that passed, it had three circuits on the fuse board. I went back there two years later to change some downlights and found issues that I had not see during the test (because I had not removed the downlights from the ceiling).

    Yes, I check bad properties. Most of the people asking me for a test realise there are issues, that is why they call me; in the same way that people in good health don't visit a doctor. However, it is very easy to fail a test. C1 violations are not common, but C2 violations (potentially dangerous) are common. Cables entering a fuse board from above, via a hole, which would allow water to enter: C2. No RCD for a socket that could be used for mobile equipment outside: C2. The test I carried out yesterday had a few C2s, no equipotential bonding of the gas and water pipes, holes on the fuse board's top surface, a damaged socket, no supplementary bonding in the bathroom and two circuits in the kitchen that shared a 32A fuse but should have had individual 16A or 20A fuses.

    It is very easy to fail an EICR.

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    William, absolutely, I fully appreciate some/many may fail. However your main initial point was that you had “never” had a satisfactory test. This is the point that I and other readers are finding hard to grasp.

     
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    Alistair, In the last 10 years I have probably carried out about 250 EICRs. Most of these EICRs were the first ever EICR carried out on the property, whose electrical installation is about 30 to 40 years old. I normally find faults which take half a day, a day or two days to fix. Sometimes I find a few faults that can be fixed in a few hours but, with a house that has had no one check the electrics since the 1970s, that is not the norm.

    You may find this hard to grasp but that is due to you not understanding the nature of the job. An EICR on a two bedroom flat or house, normally takes a day, it isn't like a gas safety check, which is over in 20 minutes. Every circuit in the house needs to be checked and at least 25% of junctions need to be inspected (I normally do about 33%).

    I admit I err on the side of caution, after all, it is my signature on the certificate.

    As I wrote earlier, I only test new work if there are suspected issues.

     
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    In reply to your last paragraph Alistair. I very rarely check newer properties. If someone has a new property and they want a test I would normally tell them not to bother; if they have had work done by a non registered electrician and they want me to issue a certificate I normally say 'No!'. Unless I believe they have been hoodwinked and then I will carry out an EICR for them if Building Control tell me that this acceptable.

    I did have a landlord recently that had been asked for as test but had had an EICR done less than 10 years ago and the EICR was for 10 years. I told him this was good enough but he was told he had to have it done every 5 years. So I carried out an EICR for him and found multiple issues.

    Much of the more serious issues I come across are down to 'Mr DIY' doing his own electrics or a builder that has done a 2 week electrical course and has got an installation working but not safely according to BS7671.

    Small building companies doing extensions and loft conversions etc don't have enough work to hire a spark full time, so they either hire out people like me or get one of their lads to do it. I have quite often come across very attractive kitchens and bathrooms with sub standard electrics and plumbing, covered up by tiles etc. I have one customer that is taking his builder to court after multiple issues with his loft conversion, electrical and otherwise. This was a new job but he asked me to do an EICR because he started to realise the work had been done very poorly.


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    Your first paragraph highlights what I mentioned earlier. They may be greater need for more legislation/supervision on new installs if your finding problems at 5 years with a new build

    Suspect we are working with a different client base here.

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    I don't know how common this is, like I said, I get to see the bad stuff. Someone who has had a good job done doesn't need to speak to me.

    I do believe, however, that there should be stricter enforcement of rules. A loft conversion or extension has building control all over it. A new kitchen or bathroom doesn't. I need to issue a certificate and so does the gas guy but if non registered electricians were used, the job is done, the builder takes his money and often the householder is unaware that they should get a certificate or that they have just had some unsafe work done.

  • Phil Priest

    Ooh this is almost like someone has watched my LinkedIn video where I crucify the government about this.

    So HMO are exempt from this? when the major majority if poor housing is currently taking place.

    We dont have enough qualified electrician in the UK to carry out 11m reports in 12 months.

    If the inspection takes place every 5 years, then a whole pot of hell good be unleashed in that time frame, tenant making changes etc.

    I agree with the concept of the regulation, but a phased approach is required, and come up with something thats more regular too, maybe in line with the Gas Safety

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    Any more for the bandwagon it open Season Landlord bashing, Government should protect Landlords who are providing quality homes for millions without any financial aid from anyone but in fact are instead, hindered, prosecuted, penalized, criminalized, legislated and taxed to the eye balls, its like we are enemy No.1 for providing good homes & excellent service putting no value on our own time, at no cost to Government. I don't see any of us getting Honored when the lists appear in the papers for service. I think the regulators should take a look at the under passes in Park lane central London, Marble Arch & High Park Corned sub-ways to see if the electric is ok for the rough sleepers, you don't know your born.

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    We need a thick hide to be a landlord, I for one am not going to lay down and die quietly.

     
  • Paul Barrett

    It would seem that in the vast majority of properties in the UK there are potentially electrical issues in each of them.
    Electricity and gas simply cannot be allowed to be sub-standard.
    Unfortunately the cost of rectifying electrical issues can be enormous.

    Potentially many properties could benefit from a rewire especially the older stock.
    The problem is the cost is prohibitively expensive.

    But for many LL if they factored in the costs of EPC regulations to meet C standard and a rewire makes it pointless retaining the property.
    It would take years to get payback on such works.
    Better for LL to sell those properties.
    But there can be no doubt that the standard of electrical installation could definitely be improved.
    Problem is there simply aren't enough trained electricians for the work that is required.
    Training to be an electrician has to be a better way to earn a load of money than obtaining a degree in Media Studies etc!!!
    Perhaps Govt should be offering grants to encourage students away from University into electrical apprenticeships.

    There would certainly be no shortage of work for them for decades.

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    Mmmm..!

     
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