In the 2020 Social Housing White Paper, the Government committed to consult on measures to ensure that social homes are safe in respect of electrical safety. The Electrical Safety in Social Homes Working Group was formed to assist with that consultation.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has now put forward two policy proposals:
a) mandatory checks on electrical installations for social housing at least every 5 years; and
b) mandatory Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) on all electrical appliances that are provided by social landlords as part of a tenancy.
The consultation looks at these two policy proposals and seeks views on whether these are the best courses of action to protect social residents from electrical harm. The consultation can be found here.
Policy A seeks to align the social rented sector with the private rented sector following the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020. Mandating five-yearly checks would require social landlords to:
- Make sure the electrical installations in their rented properties are inspected and tested by a qualified and competent person at an interval of at least every five years (or a shorter period if specified);
- Obtain an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) from the person conducting the inspection which shows the results and sets the date for the next inspection;
- Provide a copy of the EICR to the tenant within 28 days of the inspection being carried out, and to any new tenant before they occupy a property; and
- Complete any remedial or further investigative work identified on the EICR within certain classifications within 28 days (or a shorter period if specified).
It has of course been commonplace for social landlords to carry out regular electrical safety testing for regulatory purposes; the newly proposed duties will extend and put them on a statutory footing.
The working group considered a number of options but favoured the idea of regular inspections of appliances provided by social landlords and considered that it would be a reasonable legal requirement on social landlords.
The Government proposes that PAT testing of appliances provided by social landlords be made a legal requirement. If PAT testing is mandated, the frequency would be determined according to risk assessment, but evidence of PAT testing must be provided within an EICR certificate to ensure PAT testing is completed at least every five years.
Mixed Tenure Blocks
The Electrical Safety in Social Homes Working Group also raised concerns about owner-occupied leasehold properties in mixed-tenure blocks that include social rented properties. Poor electrical safety standards for the owner-occupied leasehold properties risk compromising the safety of blocks as a whole. The concern is that this could undermine the efforts and financial contributions of social landlords to improve electrical safety in their stock. Therefore, the consultation also welcomes views on whether owner-occupiers/leasehold properties within social housing blocks should carry out mandatory checks of electrical installations at least every five years.
How to respond
The consultation will run until 31 August 2022. Responses can be sent in one of two ways:
a) Via online survey found here.
b) By e-mail or in writing to:
SRS Electrical Safety Consultation
Social Housing Division
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
3rd Floor, Fry Building
2 Marsham Street