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Councils told: ‘Stop pushing ahead with licensing during Covid crisis’

Momentum is building against councils pushing ahead with licensing schemes despite the pandemic.

Earlier this week ARLA Propertymark, the letting agents’ trade body, accused many councils of being ”socially irresponsible” and now safeagent, the lettings agency accreditation body, has called for a pause.

In April last year - shortly after the scale of the pandemic became clear - the government advised there should be a pause on new additional and selective licensing schemes. 


Since then, several councils have resumed new schemes requiring thousands of licence applications to be prepared. 

safeagent, working with the London Property Licensing service, is calling on the government to do three things.

Firstly, a further six-month moratorium by the government on new selective schemes; secondly a review by local councils on whether licensing scheme designations made but not yet in force should be withdrawn or delayed. 

Thirdly, and allied to the pause on licensing, safeagent wants a six month delay on new electrical safety standards being introduced for existing tenancies, pushing the deadline out until October 1.

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 require all occupied private rented homes in England to have an Electrical Inspection Condition Report by April 1 – an estimated 4.5m households.

“Now is not the right time to implement any new licensing schemes or electrical safety regulations. Not only do they add pressure to much needed resource, they necessitate thousands of extra property inspections, which create too much risk of transmission, even with precautions. We believe there should be a blanket delay of both across England” explains Isobel Thomson, chief executive of safeagent. 

“This needs to happen response to the latest stage of the outbreak. If the date for evictions can be delayed, surely the implementation date for electrical checks can also be put back?” she asks.

And Richard Tacagni, managing director of London Property Licensing, adds:

“Now is not the time for electricians to inspect electrical installations in every private rented home in England, yet it is a legal requirement for landlords to do so by April 1. Even with the best safety measures, electricians must enter every room, touch sockets, switches and other electrical fittings before moving onto the next occupied property. 

‘Likewise, pausing new licensing schemes will avoid people having to enter private rented properties to prepare floorplans, measure room sizes and collect the information needed to apply. Undertaking these inspections will place tenants at increased risk of infection.”

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  • George Dawes

    They've got to fund those public sector pensions somehow

    That's where all your hard earned council tax / business rates goes

  • Ruan Gildchirst

    Is it possible for a LL to force the tenants UC to be paid directly to them if the tenants refuse to pay it?

    Philip Savva

    Yes 💯, if they are 2 months in arrears, you need submit a UC47 online, go on the .gov website to complete the form

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    • 22 January 2021 08:11 AM

    As I understand it, you can ask the housing office to change to paying you directly. And they should do that.

    However, the kick is that your tenant can later ask them to reverse it, and neither the housing authority, nor your tenant is obliged to tell you. I have never come across any of them to volunteer the change to you.

    What it means is you can only find out, if and when, your tenant defaults on paying you, and then you will know that they, in cohorts with the housing authority, have screwed you.........AGAIN!

    Yet again the LL gets it in the neck.

    Let us know what happens. But most likely, your rent will end up in pubs, bars, Wetherspoons, bingo halls and spent on Silk Cut, Benson & Hedges and the Lotto.


    No UC, no single mums, and they wounder why not !

  • Bill Wood

    October 1st as an EICR deadline is very much needed. My electrician is run off his feet, as most competant electricians probably are.
    And going into every room of an occupied house at this time, is just plain dangerous.
    I've a mind to write to Chelmsford Council, copied to my MP, pointing out the stupidity of a 1st April deadline.

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    I have got an electrician on one of my btl as I type. They did inspection then said I needed new fuse box unit to meet new building regs. Last week same happened on another of properties. As all are of similar age and in.samr area I am expecting other 2 properties will need to be done as well. I also had a few single plug sockets made into doubles whilst he was there. Not cheap but at least can be written off against tax bill as essential maintenance and must be done to let properties. I thought electricians might be hard to get hold of end of March with rush to comply.


    Hi Wendy, I would be very suspicious of your Electrician.
    The Consumer Unit, or Fuse Box as you call it, does not have to comply to New regs.
    As long as it is safe and has RCD protection, so don't let them con you.
    In reality probably 80% of existing installations do not come up to the new Reg's, they are mainly intended for New Installations..


    I agree with Robert. I used to use British Gas to service boilers (expensive mistake!) and issue LGSR. They would plaster NOT TO CURRENT SPECIFICATIONS all over the reports and tell tenants that the boiler was only xx% efficient so that barrack room lawyer tenants would complain that things weren't totally safe and too expensive to use.

    I now only use self employed sole trader tradesmen m ideally not VAT registered, and go on every inspection with them to ensure accurate and not misleading information is given and recorded. Every recommendation is queried as to whether mandatory, advised on enhanced efficiency or safety grounds etc.

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    Forgot to add rents having to go up to cover additional costs and new energy efficiency certificate too. Next the government will be complaining tents are too high when they are pushing up the costs.

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    I am lucky as I have just completed the last one. I started a couple of years ago after reading the print on one of the insurance policies. But with how hard it’s been to get someone in and then again for rectifications this dead line is not realistic.

  • Philip Savva

    Rightly so! At last someone with some common sense!!

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    • 23 January 2021 10:08 AM

    For sure my rents will go up to cover the extra £250.00 each time it has to be checked.

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    I think all people with any degree of common sense know that any one coming into their house poses a risk of bring COVID-19 with them. So the way I see it is, it should be my duty to insure safety of my Tennants and that means not breaking family bubbles, therefore the deadline must be adjusted.

    I understand the logic in making sure our homes are 100% safe for tenants. Electrical checks, gas safety checks etc are all for the good and benefit of all. Tenants for their safety and me for not getting sued for providing unsafe accomodation.

    Long story short, safety is important but play the game. Move the deadline.


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