Property sector bodies have warned the government to pause new property licensing schemes and routine electrical inspections for six months or risk increasing the spread of Covid.

Safeagent and London Property Licensing say this isn’t the time for council officials to be visiting rented properties to prepare licence applications or for electricians to do routine electrical testing.

All occupied private rented homes in England will need an Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR) by 1st April – an estimated 4.5 million households – involving hours spent by workmen inside each property.

Despite government advice last year that there should be a pause in new additional and selective licensing schemes, some councils have resumed them.

Safeagent and London Property Licensing are now calling for a further six-month moratorium on approving any new selective licensing schemes.

Six-month pause

They also want councils to impose a six-month pause on making any new additional and/or selective licensing schemes designations, as well as to review whether scheme designations made, but not yet in force, should be withdrawn or the implementation date paused.

They add that the extension of the Electrical Safety Standards regulations to existing tenancies should be delayed by six months, until 1st October.

Propertymark agrees that many local authorities have continued to push ahead with licensing schemes which is not helping to minimise the risk and spread of the virus.

It says that with some agents furloughed or continuing to work from home, they can’t access relevant paperwork and documentation to complete licensing scheme applications and process fees.

And it adds that if landlords who can’t afford the license fee remove their property from the market, tenants will be forced to seek new homes, putting people at risk and spreading rather than stemming the pandemic.

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