Safety regulations give agents much-needed clarity

Mandatory requirements for fire, smoke and CO2 alarms in private rented properties are intended to come into effect in Northern Ireland in January 2024. However, the requirement for inspection and testing of the property’s electrical hard-wired installation every five years does not yet have a confirmed implementation date.

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The Private Tenancies Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 received Royal Assent in April 2022 and has been introduced gradually. Sections 1-6 came into force on 1 April 2023 and changes to notice periods since 5 May 2022. Section 8 and Section 10 are the next stages of the Act, and a consultation sought views on providing a sound legislative framework and that the guidance is clear, complete, and easy to follow.

20 Sep 2023
Views sought on next phases of the Private Tenancies Act

In response to the consultation, Propertymark voiced strong support for the new sections, and we have consistently advocated for raising standards in the private rented sector, particularly when it comes to the safety of tenants. These changes will bring Northern Ireland to the same level as the rest of the UK. 

Smoke, fire, and CO2 alarms

Propertymark members are particularly supportive of the legal requirement for these alarms to be present, rather than a recommendation, as this will remove any doubt about the need to install each required alarm. This will also make it easy for a tenant to know what measures should be in place in rented property. 

Electrical inspections

The legal requirement is an effective way to improve the quality of homes within the private rented sector. While the regulations reflect existing industry best practices, formalising the requirements will set a level playing field for the sector, reducing instances of poor practice.

Implementation must be carefully considered

For the Regulations to be introduced effectively and for agents and landlords to have adequate time and resources to comply, Propertymark wants to see the following recommendations and requests included:

  • Guidance should be easily accessible to tenants so tenants understand they can raise concerns if an electrical inspection is overdue
  • It is imperative that guidance for tenants is explicitly included within the regulations, not just the accompanying guidance 
  • A strategy must be issued to support local authorities to ensure compliance
  • Consideration must be given to potential difficulties in securing qualified professionals to inspect the property during the first year the regulations are enforced.
  • Where agents are managing the property, they should be responsible for meeting the regulations with remedial notices provided to agents as well as landlords and tenants.
  •  Propertymark requests that additional guidance be provided on exactly where an alarm should be fitted within a room.
  • Clarity on any grace period between the enactment of the regulations and when they will be enforced must be provided.
Read our full consultation response