Electrical Safety Standards
Under the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, landlords are now required to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent, at least every 5 years. Landlords have to provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants, and to their local authority if requested.
The Regulations apply to new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.
There are some exceptions which are set out in Schedule 1 of the Regulations and include social housing, lodgers, those on a long lease of 7 years or more, student halls of residence, hostels and refuges, care homes, hospitals and hospices, and other accommodation relating to healthcare provisions.
Guidance from the Government for landlords and tenants is available HERE and a link has also been added to the suite of guidance for TPO members HERE.
Agents have a responsibility to ensure that the properties they market and let are safe and compliant. The TPO Code for Residential Lettings, paragraph 4f, explains this should be done by providing the landlord with advice about their responsibilities and checking that the necessary certificates are in place.
Agents also need to be aware that a copy of the electrical safety report should be supplied to the current tenant within 28 days of the inspection and test, to a new tenant before they occupy the premises, and to any prospective tenant within 28 days of receiving a request for the report. In addition, if a local authority requests it, the report must be provided within 7 days of receiving the request. It is therefore recommended that agents keep a copy of the report on file to enable them to provide this on behalf of the landlord when the need arises.
Tenant Fee Act 2019 – 2020 Changes
From 1 June 2020 the ban on tenant fees was extended to existing tenancies that fall within the scope of the Tenant Fees Act. This includes assured shorthold tenancies, tenancies of student accommodation and licences to occupy (subject to some exclusions).
Landlords and agents in England cannot charge any fees on existing or new tenancies other than the permitted payments as set out in the Tenant Fees Act, which have been summarised in paragraph 12a of the TPO Code for Residential Lettings.
Video/Virtual Viewings – Assured Advice
One of the many impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the increasing use of technology to perform tasks that would have previously been carried out in person. Property viewings conducted via video and pre-recorded viewings are two important ways agents have helped to bring buyers and sellers together, and this is a service that looks set to continue.
TPO received a number of queries relating to consumer and agent protection on the issue, with agents asking how to advise their sellers and buyers raising concerns about potential omissions. To assist TPO has obtained Primary Authority Assured Advice designed to help agents deal with video viewings in a compliant way. The advice can be relied upon by TPO member agents and is recognised by all local Trading Standards agencies in the UK.