The Government has recently published a report into Electrical Safety in Rented Property which looks as if it will make it a mandatory legal requirement for landlords to have five-yearly electrical safety checks. What’s more, there is also a recommendation that Residual Current Devices (RCDs), better known as ‘trip switches’ should be a part of the system.
It is already compulsory for landlords to ensure that all rented property is safe for tenants, and that includes the electrical system. However, unlike Gas Safety checks, which must be carried out and certificated every year, electrical testing has not been subject to the same legislative effect. The electrical checks are mandatory in Scotland, and the Scottish Government introduced in 2016 the requirement for five yearly checks, to be carried out by a registered electrician. England now looks set to follow suit. The Government introduced an enabling power in the Housing and Planning Act 2016, allowing for changes to electrical safety standards to be set through secondary legislation.
The Government working group looking at electrical safety in tenanted property has made a number of recommendations for England:
- 5 yearly mandatory electrical installation checks.
- Visual checks of the safety of the electrical installation and any appliances supplied by landlords at a change of tenancy.
- A report for the landlord which confirms that an electrical safety check has been completed along with confirmation that any remedial work necessary has been undertaken satisfactorily. A copy should be issued to the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy and should be made available to local authorities on request.
- The installation of Residual Current Devices (RCDs) by landlords should be encouraged as good practice.
- The legislation should be phased in, beginning with new tenancies, followed by all existing tenancies.
We already require appropriate electrical safety checks to be carried out where we are acting for a landlord and see this legislation as a good thing. Just like gas safety, you can’t be too careful. What is incredible, is that these standards only apply to rented property – if you are a homeowner, you can ignore them completely and take no action at all! Definitely something to keep in mind – especially when you move-house yourself.
Going forward it is not yet clear who will be competent to carry out these electrical tests, but certainly a qualified electrician can do these checks now which is how we deal with current properties being let before this new law comes into force.