Landlords must ensure mandatory electrical inspections are carried out in private rented accommodation by competent and qualified inspectors under new rules announced by the government.
They could face tough financial penalties if they fail to comply with the new regulation, which is part of the government’s commitment to drive up standards in the sector.
A transitional period will apply in the first two years, where the new rule will affect all new private tenancies in the first year and then extend to all existing private tenancies in the second year.
Properties with an existing electrical installation condition report (EICR) will not be required to replace it for five years from its date.
For new and fully rewired properties, an Electrical Installation Certificate can be presented in place of an EICR provided the date of the next inspection mentioned on the certificate has not elapsed.
New guidance which sets out the minimum level of competence and qualifications necessary for those carrying out the inspections is to be published.
It will provide clear accountability at each stage of the inspection process – of what is required and whose responsibility it is – “but without placing excessive cost and time burdens” on landlords.
Alongside the new guidance, existing “competent person scheme operators” will be invited to set up an electrical inspection and testing scheme which inspectors and testers can choose to join.
Housing and Homelessness Minister Heather Wheeler said: “Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure in their own home. While measures are already in place to crack down on the small minority of landlords who rent out unsafe properties, we need to do more to protect tenants.
“These new measures will reduce the risk of faulty electrical equipment, giving people peace of mind and helping to keep them safe in their homes. It will also provide clear guidance to landlords on who they should be hiring to carry out these important electrical safety checks.”
Councils will also have the authority to impose fines of up to £30,000 on rouge landlords who rent out poor quality properties from 1st June 2019.
Regulations requiring landlords to have electrical installations in privately rented homes checked every five years will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows. They will include a requirement on landlords to ensure they must also have regard to new guidance in determining who is competent to carry out an electrical safety inspection. The regulations will be subject to the affirmative procedure and will need to be debated and approved in both Houses of Parliament before they can be brought into force.
The government intends to introduce the new requirements on a phased basis starting with new tenancies.
The other recommendations in the consultation paper were concerned with promoting voluntary action by landlords to improve electrical safety standards in the sector, e.g. by carrying out a visual check of electrical installations at the change of a tenancy. There was a high level of support for all of these measures. The government will update the ‘How to Let’ guidance to encourage landlords to carry out these actions at the same time as the new regulatory requirements come into force.
It will engage with industry stakeholders to produce new guidance setting out how landlords could determine competence. The new guidance and any voluntary competent person schemes will be finalised six months ahead of the new regulatory requirements coming into force.
A decision on the most appropriate penalties for non-compliance will be made in good time before the secondary legislation is introduced. These penalties are likely to include a range of sanctions with the local authority having discretion to decide which one is the most appropriate in any particular case. The government will engage closely with local authorities in England when setting out the sanctions for non-compliance.