19th March 2019
Compulsory Electrical Checks for Rental Homes – New Regulations on the Way
The housing minister has recently announced new measures to improve electrical safety within the private rental sector. If you are a landlord/have properties you rent out, or provide for staff use, how will you be affected?
Long Time Coming…
It has long been argued that landlords should be obliged to carry out electrical testing. This is due to the number of deaths and injuries caused by bad electrical wiring. These concerns resulted in the Housing and Planning Act being brought into Law back in 2016. However, although the Act made provision for future regulation in this area, it did not in itself create new duties for landlords. Now, following general support for the idea, regulations are expected be published later in 2019.
What Do I Need to Do?
Quite simply (and as is already the case for commercial properties) private sector landlords will soon need to have an electrical test and inspection carried out at each of their rental properties at least every five years.
Further details are yet to emerge, but the minister has said there will be “new guidance, broadly in line with existing regulations in Scotland, helping to ensure consistency and ease for landlords operating across the two nations”.
Based on the Scottish experience, the effect of this change in the law is likely to be:
- Electrical installation condition reports (EICRs) required prior to any new tenancies
- A phased-in introduction of the legislation, so that it eventually takes in existing housing stock
- EICRs to be repeated at least five-yearly
- A requirement to provide a copy of the certificate to tenants at the start of any new tenancy
- Only competent and qualified electrical testers to undertake these inspections and tests (I.e NICEIC or ECA Registered)
- Penalties for failing to comply
- Powers for local authorities to enforce the standards, including potentially banning landlords from renting property.
When Will This Apply?
The new regulations will only affect the private rental sector, i.e. property which is privately owned and rented out for housing either via a tenancy agreement to individuals who pay market rent; or as part of an arrangement with a relative or employee under which housing is provided rent free or below-market rent.
When the regulations come into force it’s likely that they’ll apply to new tenancies with immediate effect. However, we don’t have a timescale yet; this will be determined by the availability of Parliamentary time in the coming months.
Any landlord who follows good practice will already have periodic inspections and tests of their systems undertaken by qualified electricians. For most there shouldn’t be too much of an impact other than a little extra paperwork.
It’s worth noting that any certificate of “periodic inspection and test” undertaken in accordance with the IET Wiring Regulations (BS7671) is likely to be accepted as compliance under the new regulations, which would mean that you can simply plan to renew your certification five-yearly as usual.