How are the rules changing?

At present, anyone who owns a rental property must protect tenants from the risk of electric shock, or fires from electrical items. This involves checking and maintaining electrical installations – such as sockets or light fittings – over the course of a tenancy to ensure they are safe.

Where a property is furnished or part-furnished and this includes appliances, such as a toaster or TV, appliances must have at least the CE marking to show that it meets all the requirements of European law. For houses in multi occupation (HMOs), inspections must be carried out every five years by a registered electrician, but this is not currently required for a non-HMO property.

Under the up-coming regulations, from July 2020 all new or renewed private tenancies in England will need to have all electrical installations inspected and tested by a qualified person before the start of the tenancy. They must then be inspected and tested a minimum of every five years after that, unless the safety report requires it to be done more often.

Tenancies that are already in place or ongoing will have the same rules applied to them from 1 April 2021, so they have slightly more leeway. After this point, the same rules will apply to all private tenancies in England, including HMOs.

What do landlords need to do?

Landlords who take on new tenants after 1st July must employ a qualified person to test all electrical fixtures and fittings prior to the new contract. They must obtain a written report of the findings, which they supply to the tenant before they occupy the property, as well as to any new tenants who request one after this point.

For existing tenants if a tenancy is being renewed after this date, landlords must supply a copy of the findings within 28 days of the inspection being carried out. They must also keep a copy for their records, and in case the local authority requests to see one.

If any faults are found, landlords must ensure any repairs are carried out as soon as possible, but at least within 28 days of the inspection – and this must be done by a qualified person, too. Once all electrical fixtures and fittings are compliant, the report can then be issued to existing or future tenants.