Amendment to the Housing and Planning Act to allow regulation to require electrical safety checks on private rental properties
After considerable campaigning by the charity we have received a significant milestone with our work to achieve mandatory 5 year electrical safety checks in the private rented sector. The Housing and Planning Bill was a flagship government Bill and the first new housing legislation for 12 years. We saw this as a tremendous opportunity to work with politicians and raise the issue of electrical safety in the private rented sector, particularly given our success in Scotland and hopefully soon to be in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Politicians from both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats spoke to our amendment for 5-yearly checks at least seven times during the Bill’s passage through both the House of Commons and House of Lords respectfully. Such sustained campaigning by the charity meant that the government had to listen and respond, and we were promised by government that our proposals would receive sympathetic consideration.
The government came forward with their own ‘enabling’ amendment to the Bill, that will allow the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to bring forward regulations that may allow electrical safety checks in the private rented sector. The Act is now law as is the enabling amendment, so we expect the government to start work on drafting regulations shortly. We did also express to the Minister, Baroness Williams of Trafford, who brought forward the amendment, that there is a need to tighten up the wording, and we also expressed to her the need to achieve better regulations. We view the government amendment as a win, and that the Minister has accepted the need to act. The question now is how the regulations will look and what the detail will be.
Since the Bill received a Royal signature to become an Act, we have been in touch with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to ensure that they know that the charity has the technical specialist knowledge to assist it with the task of drafting the regulations. However, we remain concerned about government statements to the effect of wishing to protect tenants but also ‘not overburdening the sector’ which we believe is referring to landlords. The word ‘mandatory’ also does not appear in the Act of Parliament, something we need to address