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Electrical safety certificates, avoiding tenant evictions and changes in legislation under the microscope as Ashford Borough Council holds summit for private sector landlords

Published: 16/09/2022
A key in a door

Ashford Borough Council has invited nearly 300 private sector landlords who rent out properties in the area to attend a virtual summit on Tuesday 8 June.

The council has teamed up with the National Residential Landlords Association to organise the virtual forum to inform landlords about a range of issues that are likely to have far-reaching impacts on landlords and their tenants. Those invited to attend include landlords renting out a single property to those who have a portfolio of dozens of properties across the borough.

Sharon Williams, Head of Housing at Ashford Borough Council, said top of the agenda is working with landlords to find workable alternatives to evicting tenants and so preventing an increase in the number of people becoming homeless.

“At the start of the pandemic the Government curbed the ability of private sector landlords to evict tenants. That halt to evictions comes to an end on 31 May and the council has been working to try and ensure we don’t see a flood of people made homeless.

“The aim was to provide accommodation security to people made redundant or furloughed by employers hit by the recession caused by the pandemic. Our officers have been supporting landlords and agents with any tenants who are struggling to pay their rent or any other issues regarding the impact of the pandemic. We’ve succeeded in helping a number of landlords to resolve problems with tenants, avoiding situations where people present themselves as homeless.

“We are using this forum to reach out again to landlords and agents, to explain how we can help and provide advice on negotiating rent arrears and what to do if customers are struggling to pay the landlord.”

Another topic under the microscope are the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020. They require landlords to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a qualified person at least once every five years. Landlords have to provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants, and to their local authority if requested. Fines up to £30,000 can be imposed by councils on landlords who are in breach of their duties.

Marion Money, the south east representative from the National Residential Landlords Association, will use the forum to update landlords on upcoming changes to the law that will impact on their business.                        

Electrical safety standards case study

Ashford Borough Council’s Accommodation officer was contacted by an estate agent who had tried on several occasions to arrange an electrical safety inspection. Each time the agent had given the tenant plenty of time to rearrange, but when the engineer arrived at the pre-arranged time, the tenant would have a reason to why the engineer could not enter the property, or no-one was in.

The agent felt that their last resort was to contact the council for assistance. Our accommodation officer advised on the best way to proceed, including making sure that a letter was been sent to the address, as previously all arrangements were made via telephone. We also advised on the content for the letter to avoid the risk of miscommunication.

The case was resolved quickly, which allowed the inspection to go ahead with no issues regarding access. This fulfilled the estate agent’s legal obligations and maintained the safety of the property.

Sometime the landlord, or the tenant, feel that approaching the council should be the last option when in fact we are always happy to assist and advise when it is necessary.

Find out more

For more information about the summit contact Dan Ford, Accommodation Officer, Ashford Borough Council on 01233 330872 or 07881 825484, or email dan.ford@ashford.gov.uk