Mandatory electrical safety checks

Currently landlords are required to provide electrical installation certificates to show new equipment is safe, but there is no legal requirement to have it regularly inspected. However, there are several pieces of legislation that landlords could fall foul of if they provide faulty electrics. Legislation such as the Landlord and Tenant Act require landlords to respond to any requests for repairs and a claim could also be brought under the Consumer Protection Act if a property is found to be unsafe.

Landlords also have a duty of care for people on their property. Publishing the results of a consultation on Electrical Safety Standards in the private rented sector recently, the Government said that it will press ahead with plans first announced last year to introduce regulations requiring landlords to undertake five yearly safety checks of electrical installations in their properties. While no date has been announced for this, the Government has announced that it intends to introduce this new legislation on a phased basis, starting with new tenancies, as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

The Government has also said the industry will be given at least 6 months to become familiar with the new duty before it comes into force. A transitional period will also apply in the first two years, where the new duty will only apply to all new private tenancies in year 1 and then extended to all existing private tenancies in year 2. The new guidance also sets out the minimum level of competence and qualifications necessary for those carrying out these important inspections, meaning both landlords and tenants can be assured their home is safe from electrical faults.

The new plans come at the end of years of campaigning by consumer and safety groups such as ‘Electrical Safety First ’and 10 years after the death of Thirza Whitall who was found dead by her five-year-old daughter Millie at their home in Porthscatho, Cornwall. The 33-year-old had been running a bath and the inquest into her death was told the property had no earth connection. An electric current made its way through the taps and into the water. Although he recorded an accidental death verdict, Coroner Andrew Cox said it was "inexplicable" there was no law on checking the electrics in rented homes. The inquest heard the cottage had not had a full electrical check since 1981.

Minister for Housing and Homelessness Heather Wheeler MP said: "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."

Electrical safety in rented properties is absolutely vital and these new regulations will make electrical safety checks mandatory for landlords. Many landlords have already had these check carried out, the remainder might want to reduce the risks of unsafe properties earlier and get these certificates in place to make sure their property is fully safe for their tenant.

Parkinson Property

4th February 2019


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