Legal Update: 2016

Housing and Planning Act 2016

The Housing and Planning Bill last month has received Royal assent and is now officially the Housing and Planning Act 2016. Various secondary legislation will need to be passed before it is in force, which is expected to be April 2017. However, the delay in the enforcement of the Act, could lead to further legislative changes. The Act has been very slow in publication but is now available.

Electrical Safety Standards

The Secretary of State will have the power to pass regulations placing a positive obligation on Landlords to ensure that electrical safety standards are met during any tenancy term. These ‘electrical safety standards’ relate to the installation of the electrical supply and the electrical fixtures and fittings or appliances that the Landlord may have supplied.

In order to satisfy this obligation, a Landlord will be required to instruct an expert (we assume an electrician) to ensure the ‘electrical safety standards’ are met. These tests may be required annually and may obligate the Landlord to provide a copy of the expert’s certificate to the Tenant. However, until the Secretary of State has passed the regulation, we will not know the extent of the obligations.

Landlords who fail to comply with the ‘electrical safety standards’ could face a financial penalty. In essence, the provisions appear to be making fixed wiring and PAT tests a legal requirement for Landlords.

It remains to be seen to what extent the electrical changes will impact Landlords. They could be arranged in such a way that significant upgrades to electrical installations are required but are more likely to be targeted at specifically dangerous items.

Client money protection schemes for property agents

The Secretary of State will also have the power to pass regulations ensuring property agents become members of a private or government client money protection scheme. The reference to client money would include deposits and rent held by lettings agents on behalf of Tenants and Landlords.

Property agents who fail to comply with this provision could face a financial penalty determined by the Secretary of State and enforced by local authorities.

Client money protection schemes have been called for, for a long time and will be a welcome addition for most Landlords and Tenants who generally already believe that it is a requirement. Pace is already a member of such a scheme but we will watch for any further news and update you accordingly.

As always, should you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Pace team and we will be happy to offer our professional advice.

Marcus James is Lettings Manager at Pace, an independent Southend on Sea Letting Agent. He deals with every aspect of the property letting process, providing expert and candid advice together with tailor-made marketing plans for each property he lists for rental.

Marcus prides himself on ensuring our landlord clients get the best return in the right timeframe for their investments by conducting rental appraisals, letting viewings and oversees the running of the lettings department.