The government has recently announced a range of new safety measures that are aimed at increasing the security of tenants in all sectors but notably that of the Private Rented Sector or “PRS”.
For some years, various professional associations and political groups, as well as influential safety organisations, have been pushing for more specific legislation in certain areas, including that of electrical safety.
Although not necessarily specifically related to this particular piece of legislation, the entire domain has been given added emphasis and momentum by the terrible tragedy at the Grenfell Tower.
The new legislation will require all PRS landlords to undertake a formal electrical safety inspection every five years. This will be mandatory and not simply a matter of best practice advice and guidance.
This measure is perhaps best seen as being interim, in the sense that the government has also announced the formation of the committee constituted with the intention of taking steps to review the overall subject of fire safety and buildings.
That might even include a full review of building materials and appropriate flame and fire retardant installations, though the exact scope and of course, any conclusions, are yet to be made public.
Speculation always runs the risk of being wrong but it seems safe to predict that in the immediate future, PRS businesses will see increasing numbers of safety-related compliance requirements.
The backdrop of insurance
It’s perhaps worth commenting that whatever the conclusions of the committee are in due course, there may already be regulations in place for landlords governing fire safety.
In some places, such as in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, these might exist at national devolved government level. In the case of England, with its typically more decentralised approach, those local authorities that operate formal landlord registration requirements may also have stipulations in place relating to minimum fire safety precautions and possibly fire safety inspections as well.
It is worth noting that a landlord insurance policy will typically require landlords to be in full conformity with all prevailing national and indeed local legislation, rules and regulations relating to all aspects of their business – including that of fire and electrical safety.
Failing to be in full compliance with such regulations may put your insurance cover at risk.
Discussion and summary
It seems likely as if the government’s new regulation and the subsequent consultative processes will be broadly welcomed by the industry.
No responsible landlord would wish to think they were letting out a property that did not meet best electrical safety standards. That would also apply to fire safety overall.
Of course, there may be some background concerns over more cost being added to business operations and perhaps yet more administration and bureaucracy too. That would be perfectly understandable but such things will be a relatively small price to pay given the importance of maintaining tenants’ safety.
The deliberations of the government’s committee’s and their full recommendations in due course will be eagerly anticipated and closely reviewed once they are available.