What progress is being made to introduce mandatory electrical safety inspections in the private and social rented sectors in Wales?
The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, once implemented, will require all landlords to ensure the property they rent is fit for human habitation throughout the life of the contract. This requirement will apply equally to landlords in both the private and social rented sectors.
Section 94 of the Act requires the Welsh Ministers to make regulations in relation to determining whether a dwelling is fit for human habitation; these regulations will set out the following:
The Welsh Government has already consulted on the regulations to be made under section 94 of the Act. The consultation proposed replicating the 29 hazards listed under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (operated by local authorities under the Housing Act 2004) as the prescribed matters and circumstances. This will update the current definition of fitness for human habitation to reflect modern living standards.
In addition to the regard a landlord must have to the 29 matters and circumstances, three specific requirements were also proposed in the draft regulations:
Where these requirements are not complied with, a dwelling would be treated as being unfit for human habitation, irrespective of the position regarding the 29 matters and circumstances.
With regard to electrical safety testing specifically, a landlord would be required to ensure an inspection is carried out on wiring and fixed electrical equipment to check that they are safe, at least every five years. This inspection is designed to:
Once the inspection has been completed, a landlord will be issued with an Electrical Installation Condition Report. This report will inform the landlord that the electrical installation is compliant and free from any defect. Should the report highlight any deterioration, defects or dangerous conditions which do not comply with current safety standards, the landlord must address these issues before the property can be considered fit for human habitation.
The requirement for a property to be fit for human habitation will form part of the new occupation contracts. This will provide clarity for both landlord and contract-holder, and allow a contract-holder to take action where the landlord is not meeting their obligation.
Implementing the Renting Homes Act requires significant changes to the Civil Procedure Rules and court IT systems, which are non-devolved matters. We are working closely with the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service to effect these changes. However, I am unable to give a firm date for implementation of the Act.