By Richard Wolff – Lettings Manager, Benjamin Stevens Estate Agents
The last 12 months have possibly been the most challenging for the lettings industry in the 24 years I have worked in the sector. Whilst there have been new regulations over the years that we have had to deal with – such as the Deregulation Act, The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations, The How To Rent Guide, to name but a few – I think it is safe to say that 2020 and 2021 have seen some of the biggest challenges the lettings market has had to deal with.
One of those big challenges came into effect on the 1st June 2020 right in the middle of the pandemic – The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020.
I should say from the outset that I personally think this piece of legislation is one of the better ones that the industry has had to deal with. Making sure rental properties are safe and have the correct electrical installations can only be viewed as a good and positive thing, in my opinion. After all what landlord doesn’t want to give a safe property to a tenant? Sadly, there will always be that small minority of landlords who try to skirt around legislation. However, this piece of legislation, more than any other in my opinion, will help to wheedle out those types of landlords and will lead to better landlords, better tenants, better agents and better standards all around.
Yet it has not been without its challenges. The legislation was spilt into 2 parts.
The first came into effect on the 1st June 2020 in that any new Tenancy that started from this date had to have an electrical certificate. Under normal circumstances this would not be a problem but we were in the middle of a pandemic in June 2020. Contact between people was limited and yet the Government allowed this legislation to come into effect. Electricians had to visit properties some of which were occupied, and whilst precautions were in place with masks and gloves, would it not have been better to delay this part of the legislation? After all, the industry had been waiting over 20 years for this legislation so would another few months have made a difference?
The second part of the legislation was that any existing tenancies had to have an electrical certificate in place by 1st April 2021, meaning that as I write this, every rented property in England should now have an electrical certificate. The lead in time to this part of the act was 10 months and so there was no excuse to not have an electrical certificate in place come the deadline. Yet there were some who unfortunately left it to the last minute and then discovered that there needed to be extensive work done to bring the property to current standards.
Fortunately, here at Benjamin Stevens we did not have those issues. With our dedicated property management team we had a plan of action in place which was followed to make sure that all of our landlords were compliant come the deadlines, and that our tenants were living in safe properties. Safety is a key element to the lettings industry now and it is something we take very seriously.
Which is why if you are thinking of renting your property the first thing I recommend you do is have an electrical test.