Mandatory electric checks in rented homes to be introduced in July

Letting agents and landlords will have to carry out mandatory five-year electrical checks in privately rented homes in England from July 1, as plans for tougher safety standards are put before parliament.

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 looks likely to pass through the Commons and the Lords in the coming weeks and is set to become law by the summer.

The move has been largely welcomed by landlord bodies who say it will “create a level playing field for all agents and landlords”.

The plans come a decade after the death of Thirza Whitall who died running a bath; the inquest into her death was told the rental property had no earth connection.

In recording his verdict of “accidental death,” the coroner said it was “inexplicable” there was no law on checking the electrics in rented homes. Her death sparked years of campaigning by consumer and safety groups such as Electrical Safety First.

The new regulations will mean all fixed electrical installations are inspected and tested at least every five years by qualified inspectors or engineers, according to analysis by the Association of Residential Lettings Agents.

The rules will apply to all new tenancies in England from July 1 this year and will be rolled out to existing tenancies by April 1 2021.

Under the new regulations, landlords and agents will be required to give a copy of the inspection and test report to each tenant within 28 days. They will also be obliged to retain a copy until the next inspection is due.

According to the ARLA, the report must be provided to the local housing authority within seven days of the inspection. A private landlord would have to supply a copy of the latest report to new tenants or any prospective tenant within 28 days of a request from them.

Landlords face fines of up to £30,000 for breaching any of the requirements.

The ARLA chief executive David Cox said the association was “supportive” of the new regulation, believing it would improve safety standards for tenants.

“Mandating electrical testing should have a limited impact on good professional landlords and agents in the market, many of whom already voluntarily undertake these inspections,” he said.

“We did raise concerns about the number of engineers available to undertake these reports by the April 2021 deadline but have received assurances from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government about capacity in the supply chain.”

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17th January 2020