Industry warns of Covid spread by EICR home visits

Amidst growing numbers of UK Covid cases, industry groups highlight that property professionals are being required to enter homes to conduct work, which they feel could be postponed.;
Licensing

Amidst growing numbers of UK Covid cases, industry groups highlight that property professionals are being required to enter homes to conduct work, which they feel could be postponed.

Safeagent, an accreditation scheme, and London Property Licensing, a landlord and letting agents resource site, have come together to condone councils for undertaking licensing scheme checks during the national lockdown.

Propertymark has also added its voice in support of a temporary cessation, to mitigate the unnecessary risk of spreading Coronavirus.

The strong view shared is that, whilst cases of Covid-19 continue to rise, council officials should not be visiting properties for licensing applications, nor should electricians be asked to conduct testing.

Despite government advice last year, to pause new licensing schemes, some councils have continued regardless.

April deadline for EICR

The main factor, driving the need for access to properties, is that all private rented homes in England need an Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR) by the 1st of April 2021.

This mammoth task, covering roughly 4.5 million properties, involves electrical specialists spending a few hours inside each property.

Safeagent and London Property Licensing are calling for councils to extend the deadline for the EICR until the 1st of October, to allow landlords extra time to ensure they can safely meet electrical requirements.

Six-month pause on changes to licensing schemes

To limit any further human interaction and potential spread of the virus, calls are also being made for a six-month grace period to halt any changes, or additions, to other existing or potential licensing schemes.

It’s been suggested that the proposed hiatus should include any schemes that are not fully enforced yet.

The organisations point to the lockdown limiting landlord’s access to properties, as well as estate agents being furloughed, as pivotal to the reason that these applications and approvals are taking so long.

Personal risk

Another factor that has been highlighted, as an encouragement to councils to reconsider, is the safety of their staff and the electricians required to do the work.

Chief Executive of Safeagent, Isobel Thomson, commented:

“Now is not the right time to implement any new licensing schemes or electrical safety regulations.

“Not only do they add pressure to much-needed resource, they necessitate thousands of extra property inspections, which create too much risk of transmission, even with precautions. We believe there should be a blanket delay of both across England.

“This needs to happen response to the latest stage of the outbreak. If the date for evictions can be delayed, surely the implementation date for electrical checks can also be put back?”

Repercussions

Ultimately, if landlords are unable to pay for licensing fees, they may have to take their property off the market causing tenants to have to move on. With this comes the potential for disruption and more interaction.

By contrast, if councils were to push back the deadline by six months, the potential for unnecessary additional human contact and spread of Covid would be diminished.

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Mortgage and loan rates are subject to change.