Posted in February 2021
To help control the spread of Covid-19, Safeagent is calling for a delay to the implementation of new electrical safety regulations and property licensing schemes. Safeagent is the UK’s leading not-for-profit accreditation scheme for lettings and management agents,
Whilst visiting rented properties to prepare licence applications and undertake routine electrical testing is still permitted under the current coronavirus regulations, Safeagent does not believe that either can be categorised as a priority, whilst the Covid-19 pandemic infection rates continue at such high levels across the country.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations (England) 2020 require all occupied private rented homes in England to have an Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR) by 1st April 2021. That's an estimated 4.5 million households. This involves electricians visiting thousands of properties over the coming weeks and spending a couple of hours inside each one. Despite safety measures being taken, there is clearly an added risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus and increasing infection rates in the community.
In April 2020, following Safeagent’s calls for a six month delay to licensing schemes not already in force, the government advised there should be a pause on new additional and selective licensing schemes. However, since then, some councils have resumed new schemes, requiring thousands of licence applications to be prepared and this has prompted Safeagent to raise their concerns.
Safeagent believe therefore, that there must be a further pause on new schemes to avoid the spread of Covid-19 and allow resources to be focused on core services.
The Chief Executive of Safeagent Isobel Thomson, said: “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. This needs to happen in 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.”
London Property Licensing is supporting Safeagent’s calls for routine electrical inspections and new property licensing schemes to be put on hold. The Managing Director of London Property Licensing Richard Tacagni, commented: “We are facing the biggest public health crisis of my lifetime. As a Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner, our number one priority should be to stop community spread of the virus, avoid our hospitals being overwhelmed and save lives.
“This calls for tough action. 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 1 April. 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.
“Together, we must all help to control this virus, avoid all unnecessary contact and focus resources where they are needed most – protecting public health.”
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