Although the pandemic is definitely not over, 2021 was the year we started to go back to normal.
Bars and restaurants opened again; the retail industry welcomed back shoppers, and people started going back to the office.
Our 2020 review of the year was popular with our readers, so we’ve decided to review what happened in the electrical compliance world during 2021.
What were the big news stories, and how did the law change?
- January 2021- Emergency lighting guidance document launched
- March 2021 – Launch of Bath Clean Air Zone
- April 2021 – Changes to EICR inspections for landlords
- April 2021 – The Fire Safety Act becomes law
- May 2021 – Hawkesworth offers EV charger installation
- May 2021 – Proposed changes to the private rental sector in Northern Ireland
- July 2021 – Launch of the Right to Repair Law
- July 2021 – Introduction of the Building Safety Bill
- November 2021 – Mandatory EV charging points for new buildings
January 2021 – Emergency lighting guidance document launched
In January 2021, The Society of Light and Lighting published a guidance document that addressed lighting in regards to facilities managers and facilities management companies.
The guidance covered two key areas.
Optimising lighting systems. Many buildings, especially older ones, have inefficient and unoptimised lighting systems. The guidance considers how lighting can be optimised for 2021 and beyond.
Moving towards more energy-efficient lighting options. The UK has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050, and energy-saving lighting can play a major part in achieving this target.
LG20: Lighting and Facilities Management is available to download on CIBSE.
March 2021 – Launch of Bath Clean Air Zone
Clean Air Zones (CAZ) are being launched to help reduce air pollution. One of the first to be launched outside of London was Bath’s CAZ on 15 March 2021.
With the Bath CAZ, drivers must pay a charge to drive in the city centre if their vehicle does not meet emission standards.
The Birmingham CAZ was launched in June, with the Portsmouth CAZ starting in November. The London ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) was expanded in October.
April 2021 – Changes to EICR inspections for landlords
From 1 April 2021, all residential landlords needed an EICR certificate for every property they owned.
The law was first changed in June 2020, with landlords needing a valid EICR inspection for new and renewed tenancies. In 2021, this was expanded to apply to all tenancies.
The Government changed this law to give tenants peace of mind in their properties and ensure high-quality housing for everyone.
April 2021 – The Fire Safety Act becomes law
The Fire Safety Bill was passed into law at the end of April 2021, officially becoming the Fire Safety Act 2021.
The UK Government introduced the Act to ensure tragedies like the Grenfell Tower fire of 2017 never happen again, and that the safety of people living in apartment blocks is assured.
The Act applies to England and Wales. Separate legislation is in place for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
What will the Fire Safety Act entail?
Building owners now are responsible for carrying out actions to reduce the spread of fire. They also face unlimited fines for not complying with the new Act.
The Fire Safety Order did not explicitly request that external walls and fire doors to individual flats be assessed as part of a fire risk assessment.
The Fire Safety Act has redressed this.
The Act will also make it easier for the Government to pass any future legislation arising from public inquiries like the Grenfell Inquiry. From the end of June, the Government will also be able to change the type of premises that the Bill applies to if required.
Does the Fire Safety Act replace the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order?
No, the Fire Safety Order is still active.
The Fire Safety Act was specifically introduced to cover individual flats in apartment blocks. In contrast, the Fire Safety Order only covers common spaces.
May 2021 – Hawkesworth offers EV charger installation
Partway through the year, we launched our latest service – installing and maintaining electric vehicle chargers.
With petrol and diesel cars being banned from sale in the future, many people are now considering buying an electric car or van.
We want to help improve the availability of charging points across the UK, and help the country prepare for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
May 2021 – Proposed changes to the private rental sector in Northern Ireland
Changes to the private rental sector in Northern Ireland may soon be due following a consultation on proposals to reform the sector in May 2021.
NI Communities Minister Deidre Hargey outlined plans to ensure protection for tenants to draft a bill to deliver changes.
The proposed changes include making it a mandatory requirement for landlords to provide smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as electrical safety checks.
There are currently no legal requirements to carry out EICR inspections in rental properties in Northern Ireland, but the proposals would change this.
We’ll keep you up to date with further information.
July 2021 – Launch of the Right to Repair law
The UK Government introduced a new law at the start of July, to help people extend the life of their electrical equipment – the right to repair law.
This law improves product standards and encourages manufacturers to make spare parts available.
Why has the right to repair law been introduced?
The UK Government brought in the right to repair law to help reduce the amount of electrical equipment sent to landfill because it can’t be repaired.
By making repairing damaged equipment easier, customers can extend the life of their existing equipment by up to ten years.
This not only helps customers save money, but helps protect the environment too.
What does the law mean?
Manufacturers have to make spare parts available within two years of equipment going on sale, and up to ten years after the equipment has been discontinued.
Manufacturers will also have to make any future equipment they design and build easier to repair.
Some parts will be made available to the general public so they can attempt repairs themselves. Others will only be available to professional repairers.
The law doesn’t apply to all electrical equipment. The equipment that it will apply to includes:
- Fridges and freezers
- Televisions and other electronic displays
- Power transformers, light sources and welding equipment
Manufacturers have a two-year grace period to make spare parts available.
July 2021 – Introduction of the Building Safety Bill
The Building Safety Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 5 July 2021.
The Bill was initially introduced in the summer of 2020, to help protect people that live in high-rise buildings.
The Government claim that the Bill will transform the way we design, build and manage buildings in the future.
What proposals does the Building Safety Bill include?
- A new Building Safety Regulator will be created as part of the Bill. This regulatory body will oversee safety developments and help to raise standards. The Building Safety Regulator will also have enforcement powers
- A register of building inspectors and building control approvers will be maintained. All the organisations on the register must adhere to performance standards and provide reporting
- Buildings that are over 18 metres tall will need to provide a regularly updated portfolio (a ‘golden thread’) of information, including inspection reports and details of materials used during construction
- All high-rise buildings must have an ‘accountable person’ who will ensure that the building safety Bill regulations are maintained
- The period in which leaseholders can sue developers for ‘defective premises’ has been extended from six to 15 years. Refurbishment work is now also covered in this timescale
- Tougher sanctions will be in place for those who break the law or put residents in danger. Directors of companies responsible for safety will be held personally liable, with a maximum two-year prison sentence
- If a building has serious failings, the Building Safety Regulator may step in to manage the building
Controversy surrounding the Bill
People who currently live in flats pay a service charge to cover maintenance and building works. However, the Building Safety Bill initially allowed building owners to charge leaseholders for historical costs to resolve issues that may have existed before they moved in.
After an outcry from resident organisations, the Government agreed that building owners could only cover ongoing costs.
Leaseholders still have concerns over what they could be expected to pay, especially when removing dangerous cladding.
Many critics of the Bill believe that this could cause a lot of additional expenses for people that live in high-rise buildings.
What next for the Building Safety Bill?
The Building Safety Bill is not law yet and is still in the House of Commons. After this, it will pass to the House of Lords and receive Royal Assent. It will then take at least 12 to 18 months for the Building Safety Regulator to be created and new changes to be implemented.
As it passes through parliament, the Bill may be amended, so what is proposed here may not make it into the definitive version of the Building Safety Act.
November 2021 – Mandatory EV charging points for new buildings
Although this had been in discussion for several months, the Government confirmed this mandate would be in place by 2022, three years sooner than initially expected.
While an exact implementation data has not been agreed upon, all new residential housing, office blocks and retail sites will be affected. In addition, renovation works with ten or more parking spaces will also be impacted.
It’s expected that the new regulations will lead to an extra 145,000 charging points each year. There will also be loan programmes available to help businesses meet requirements.
Happy Holidays from all at Hawkesworth
We’d like to take the opportunity to wish you a very happy Christmas, and all the best for the year ahead.
Don’t forget, if you need PAT testing or fixed wire testing in 2022, we are here for all of your electrical compliance needs.