New electrical safety standards for the private rented sector are intended to apply to all new tenancies from 1 July 2020 and to all existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.

The new Regulations are still in draft form, however, the details are unlikely to change significantly.

Landlords are already subject to regulatory requirements in relation to electrical safety.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires landlords to keep electrical installations in the property in good repair and proper working order.

Where there are electrical hazards that pose a safety risk, local authorities have powers, via the Housing Act 2004, to take action.

Five yearly electrical installation checks are currently mandatory for licensable Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

Under the new Regulations, landlords will have to ensure that:

  • an electrical inspection has been carried out before the start of the tenancy (or by 1 April 2021 for existing tenancies);
  • inspections are repeated at regular intervals of no more than 5 years; and
  • the prescribed electrical safety standards are met during any period where the property is occupied pursuant to a ‘specified tenancy’.

The electrical inspection must be carried out by a “qualified person” and the landlord must obtain a report. The government will produce new guidance setting out how landlords could determine competence.

Local authorities can impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000. The local authority can even issue more than one penalty in the event of a continuing failure.

Landlords must also provide a copy of the inspection report to any new tenant before they occupy the property. Landlords will also be required to provide a copy to any prospective tenant who requests it within 28 days of a written request from the prospective tenant. Landlords should therefore consider obtaining a report at an early stage (e.g. when preparing to market the property). The Regulations specifically state that landlords must keep a copy of the report until the date of the next inspection so landlords must ensure that their paperwork is in order.

Article by Rossanna Yarleque

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