We wrote about the Housing and Planning Bill last month but it has subsequently received Royal assent and is now officially the Housing and Planning Act 2016. All kinds of secondary legislation will need to be passed before it is in force, which incidentally is expected to be April 2017. So no need to fret just yet!
A warning however, the delay in the enforcement of the Act, could lead to further legislative changes. The Act has been very slow in publication but is now available.
Electrical Safety Standards
The Secretary of State will have the power to pass regulations placing a positive obligation on Landlords to ensure that electrical safety standards are met during any tenancy term. These ‘electrical safety standards’ relate to the installation of the electrical supply and the electrical fixtures and fittings or appliances that the Landlord may have supplied.
In order to satisfy this obligation a Landlord will be required to instruct an expert (we assume an electrician) to ensure that the ‘electrical safety standards’ are met. These tests may be required annually and may obligate the Landlord to provide a copy of the expert’s certificate to the Tenant. However, until the Secretary of State has passed the regulation, we will not know the extent of the obligations.
Landlords who fail to comply with the ‘electrical safety standards’ could face a financial penalty and with the Tenant’s consent, the local authority may enter the rented property and remedy any electrical safety failure.
In essence, the provisions appear to be making fixed wiring and PAT tests a legal requirement for Landlords.
Client money protection schemes for property agents
The Secretary of State will also have the power to pass regulations placing a positive obligation on property agents to become members of a private or government client money protection scheme. The reference to client money would include deposits and rent held by lettings agents on behalf of Tenants and Landlords.
Property agents who fail to comply with this provision could face a financial penalty determined by the Secretary of State and enforced by local authorities.
It remains to be seen to what extent the electrical changes will impact Landlords. They could be arranged in such a way that significant upgrades to electrical installations are required but are more likely to be targeted at specifically dangerous items.
Client money protection schemes have been called for, for a long time and will be a welcome addition for most Landlords and Tenants who generally already believe that it is a requirement.