Did you know there’s a new set of regulations for mandatory electrical safety checks in UK rental properties? If you’re a landlord, this means you’re required to check if you meet them and, if not, immediately take steps to comply.
Electricity safety is vitally important for landlords to get right, not only for their tenants’ personal safety, but also to protect themselves against legal action and unnecessary expense.
In this guide we’ll list the details of the new regulations, what’s expected of you as a landlord and and how to get an electrical certificate for your rental property.
Do landlords have to get an electrical certificate?
Yes. From 1st July 2020, private landlords are legally required to ensure all their electrical installations are inspected and tested by a registered electrician. This is a change from the voluntary electrical checks that were recommended before this new ruling.
How must landlords comply with electrical safety checks?
All private landlords are required to have their electrical installations inspected and tested at least every five years, and must provide a copy of the electrical safety report to their tenants, as well as their local authority if requested to do so.
Do I need to get an electrical certificate for existing tenants?
Yes. The regulation states that you must provide an electrical certificate for new tenancies from 1st July 2020, while for existing tenancies, you must provide one from 1st April 2021 and then again every five years. Both existing and new tenancies require an electrical certificate.
Why have the regulations around landlord electrical safety checks changed?
The changes have been made to protect tenants. A small subset of rogue landlords have been shown to provide sub-standard and hazardous accommodation, especially when it comes to electrical safety. The new regulations raises the standard expected of all landlords in an effort to quell irresponsible, dangerous lets.
What if I already carry out electrical checks?
Many responsible landlords already carry out similar checks, but the new rules may mean you need to do more checks or do them in a slightly different way than you’re used to. That’s why it’s important to know the details so you can make sure you’re compliant.
Am I exempt?
The regulations apply to all private rental sector (PRS) properties except lodger agreements where the renter shares accommodation with the landlord.
What are the new landlord electrical safety regulations?
The new rules will replace existing House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) requirements for electrical installations:
1. Installations will need to be tested more often than every five years if the latest safety report recommends it.
2. If faults are identified, landlords must investigate further or order repairs within 28 days of the inspection.
3. Confirmation of repairs or further investigation must be supplied to tenants within 28 days of the work being undertaken.
4. Landlords need to make sure they receive a written report from the professional carrying out the inspection. The report should include the results of the tests and the date for the next inspection. They must issue a copy of the report to all tenants living in the property within 28 days of the inspection.
5. If a local authority ever requests a copy of the report, landlords are required to provide it within seven days.
6. When it’s time for the next inspection, landlords are also required to provide the professional tradesperson with a copy of the existing report.
7. Landlords are required to provide a copy of the most recent report to tenants before they move in.
8. If any prospective tenants request to view the most recent report, you must provide it to them within 28 days of their request.
9. Smoke alarms must be fitted on each floor.
10. Carbon monoxide alarms are mandatory in rooms with appliances using solid fuel (e.g. coal and wood).
What is the fine for non-compliant landlords?
The regulations are enforced by local housing authorities. If it’s proven that a landlord has breached the regulations the penalty fine could be up to £30,000.
Smoke alarms in rented accommodation
The new regulations include sections on smoke alarms, which now must be fitted on each floor of the property. Carbon monoxide alarms are mandatory in rooms with appliances using solid fuel (coal and wood).
How to make compliance easy and hassle free
Since you’re probably already carrying out some or all of these checks, it’s worth having a read through of the regulations and boosting your knowledge of what’s required.
What if I don’t have an electrical certificate yet?
If you don’t have an electrical certificate at the moment, book a registered professional and get it done with urgency.
What if my electrical certificate doesn’t meet all the new criteria?
Book a contractor and have a new electrical check carried out on your property. The last thing you want is an unsafe property, a potentially fatal accident and a lawsuit on your hands.
What if I have multiple properties?
Find a contractor you trust and get them to carry out electrical checks on all your properties. It’s always a good idea to have someone in mind to carry out mandatory tasks like this, that you can always rely on.
How to make the electrical checking process easy for yourself
1. Think about a system of reporting to your tenants that is efficient and hassle-free.
2. Compile an inventory of all your electrical installations and appliances and what you know about them. This will help your contractor a lot.
How do I choose a qualified and competent electrician to carry out the checks?
Check with your chosen contractor that they’re listed on the Registered Competent Person Electrical website.
What needs to be checked?
The installations in the rental property must meet the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations to British Standard 7671. Items to be tested include all fixed electrical parts of a property such as:
- Plug sockets
- Light fittings
- Plus fuse boxes
Any permanently connected appliances such as showers and extractor fans
What about PAT testing on electrical items?
There are certain non-fixed appliances that the Regulations do NOT cover, like:
We recommend that you carry out regular PAT testing on any electrical items such as these in your rental property and that you supply tenants with a copy of the inspection record. This is good practice for landlords.
What if remedial works are shown in the report?
Under the new rules, landlords have to carry out remedial works within 28 days (or any shorter period specified in the report). You then need to provide an updated report to the tenant (and perhaps also the local authority) to show the remedial work has been carried out.
What if a landlord refuses to carry out remedial electrical works?
The local authority can serve a remedial notice on the landlord to force them to carry out the work. If the landlord still refuses, the next step is for the local authority to carry out the work and recover any expenses from the landlord.
What if the tenant refuses access for an electrical inspection?
If the landlord can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply with the regulations, but have been blocked by their tenant, they will not be found to be in breach of their regulations. We advise you to always keep copies of all correspondence between you and your tenants just this case.
What rights of appeal does the landlord have?
Once a landlord has been served a remedial notice and the intention to impose a financial penalty, they have 21 days to write a letter of appeal to the local authority. On receipt of the letter, the remedial notice will be suspended while the local authority considers the appeal. The local authority is required to notify the landlord within seven days of making their decision.
If the landlord isn’t satisfied with the local authority’s decision, they have a further right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) against:
- The decision to take remedial action by the local authority. An appeal must be made within 28 days from the day on which a remedial notice is served.
- A demand for the recovery of costs made by the local authority following remedial action.
- The decision to take urgent remedial action by the local authority. An appeal must be made within 28 days from the day on which the work started.
- A financial penalty.
Peace of mind for landlords
If you’re a first-time landlord and you’ve just read this, you may be forgiven for thinking that renting out a property isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! It often involves a lot more work and responsibility than you initially thought, but as long as you’re organised and safety conscious, you can be proactive and protect your tenants and yourself. To cover yourself in the event of any unexpected problems or mishaps, check out our electrics cover and guide to Landlord insurance for more on getting complete peace of mind.
Is electrical testing a legal requirement for landlords?
Yes. Since July 2020, UK government regulations require landlords to have electrical safety checks carried out by a registered competent professional every five years and to also provide tenants with the report.
What does a landlord electrical test involve?
An electrical safety check by a registered competent professional includes checks on wiring, plug sockets, light fittings, fuse boxes, showers and extractor fans. The report shows any remedial works to be done to comply, which must be carried out within 28 days.
How often should a rental property be electrically tested?
It’s now the law for landlords to have their rental properties tested for electrical safety every five years. A registered competent professional must carry out the check and provide the landlord of the rental property with a report. The landlord must then provide the report to the tenant.